Out with the Old, in with the New

Cougar Motorsports has always been about trying to improve.  We push late into the night designing upgraded components, practising fabrication to enhance build quality, and now the time has come to put a new and improved face to the team.  Our new website has just launched, and with it comes a more user friendly layout as well as a fully integrated mobile version.

We will also be starting a Twitter feed that will be uploaded directly to the new website, so you will be getting a closer, more frequent look at the team throughout the season.

Check us out at www.cougar-motorsports.com to stay up to date!

24 Hours of Abuse and Triumph: Retiring the MkIII in Kansas

DSC_0284One of the advantages of taking over Cougar Motorsports this year, was that David and I were able to utilize the successful cars of the previous 3 build years.  Whether it be for design, parts, or practice, they were a huge assistance.  So when it came time to pack up for our Kansas competition we had two options:  Rush the living daylights out of the current Mk IV build and hope it passes technical inspection, or brush the dust off of the previous year’s MkIII, and prep it for the upcoming race.  Not wanting to rush our first full Baja build, we decided to bring back the heavy-hitting MkIII.  With top-ten finishes already under it’s belt, it would be a fitting end to give it one last shot at the elusive podium.  Very few things were needed to get the car ready, so after some regular engine maintenance, new numbers, and a very thorough once-over, we were good to go.

20140516_204344 Packing up the shop is never a fun task.  The stress of “did we pack this?” is constant through the entire competition, but luckily we were successful and brought everything we needed.  Being able to pack an excessive amount of equipment is only possible because of Kramer CAT of Regina’s donation of a full size enclosed trailer, and a truck to tow it all with.


I think that most people from Regina would agree that the drive from here to Calgary is one of the most boring experiences possible.  Sadly,we found something worse though; the drive from Regina to Kansas is a monster.  20 hours straight of prairie got real old, real fast.  Arriving in Pittsburg, we immediately noticed the beautiful campus of Pittsburg State University, where the static events would take place in the following days.


The entire city welcomed all the teams with open arms, and just to prove the hospitality, the entire downtown strip was closed off for a Baja Show & Shine one evening.  Teams were given a police escort-convoy to get their rigs into the downtown area with no delays, and after unloading the Baja’s from the backs of trucks or trailers we parked them along the center line and enjoyed the summer evening.  With the combination of a local radio station blasting music, food vendors being set up, and the beautifully aged buildings of downtown Pittsburg framing it all together, it’s no wonder thousands came to check out the cars.


I think I can speak for all the teams when I say that I loved the atmosphere of the Show & Shine, and the few hours we spent feeling like we were part of a long-lived racing tradition of pre-race car shows.  The night of relaxation was a much needed break from the events of the day.  But we couldn’t relax too much, because the next day was a big one.


PSU campus hosted everything from Sales Presentations, to Design Judging, to the meticulously difficult Technical Inspection.  Bringing the MkIII set us in the state of mind that we would pass this inspection with flying colors.  Having passed Tech in both Bellingham and Rochester of last year should have confirmed our assumptions, but never have we been so wrong.  Having taller drivers this year was an unforeseen problem, which meant that two frame supports that braced the roll hoops to the firewall were needed to give the driver adequate head clearance.  Two supports sounds like a simple task considering the entire car was built with similar methods of construction, but having to rush them in time for the Dynamic Events raised stress levels to an all time high.  This was an overnight project that needed to be completed with the same quality as the rest of the car.  The catch?  We were in the middle of a pitch black field, in Kansas.  This is where our trailer from Kramer really shines; during competition it gets turned into a workshop complete with grinders, tool boxes, generators, and welders.


Luckily, we weren’t the only ones with this issue. After Baylor University kindly let us use their pipe bender, the guys over at UBC noticed us measuring up the same sort of thing that they were, and we started talking.  As it turns out, we got along quite well and no more than an hour later we found ourselves teaming up to tackle the long night ahead of us.  With generators running, and work lights glaring, we set to work.  2 hard-working pizzas later, the job was complete.  We really can’t thank UBC enough for the help, and it’s a perfect example of the Baja SAE community.


Tech re-inspection the next day would have been a different story for both teams had we not helped each other out.


Dynamic Day: A massive mess of teams running about the grounds trying to complete two runs in each event.  Breaks, repairs, victories, and let-downs happen hourly, and it really is something to witness.  Teams had to perform in an acceleration challenge, sled pull, maneuverability course, and the ruthless suspension and traction event.  The sled pull event meant we lowered the rear suspension of our car, which we all loved the look of.  Acceleration and maneuverability aren’t too hard on the car, but the suspension course is built to do two things:  Make you lose control, and wreck your car.


For example, the course designers thought it would be a good idea to dump massive jagged concrete blocks into a pile about 7 feet tall just a few feet before the finish line.  Due to time constraints and a bad bounce sending us out of bounds on our first run, we weren’t able to have the pleasure of attempting the concrete pile.  In some ways this can be seen as a bit of a blessing though, as we still scored a decent run, and walked away with a healthy Baja that was ready for the endurance race the next day.

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Endurance race duties are usually given to the team member with the most seat-time in the car.  David and I both have roughly the same number of hours behind the wheel, so we decided to split the race up; I would take the first two hours, and David would take it to the finish line.


With the grid set, I took a few moments and relaxed before the race began with a rolling start.  For the first few laps you have only one thing on your mind: Don’t get hit.  With 100 cars around you all fighting for the racing line through rhythm sections, drops, jumps, log fields, and mud pits, things get hectic very quickly.  If I recall correctly, it was on the third lap when the car beside me got landed on by another.  After spacing out and settling in for the long haul I eventually had my pace dialed in.


The car performed perfectly, and it stood up to the abuse as we knew it could.  Two hours and many mouthfuls of dirt later, I came in for fuel, and the driver change.  After checking the progress, we saw that the car started in 61st, and was now in 9th position.  So we strapped David in tight, and sent him out.


Multiple-driver endurance racing has got to be one of the highest stress forms of racing possible.  When it becomes your turn to take the wheel, all of the progress and hard work gets put on your shoulders and becomes your responsibility.  The car you once knew as 400 pounds of metal, ends up being made of more than that now;  you’re carrying the weight of the team’s hopes, dreams, progress, and expectations with you too.  Does this make you push a little harder than normal?  Try to close that gap a little bit more each lap?  Of course it does.  That’s racing.  If you’re not doing this, then why are you even behind the wheel?  So when I witnessed the Baja roll hard on the biggest jump, and get flagged at the start-finish line for a cage inspection, I won’t lie.  My heart dropped.  I think all of ours did.  David’s even went upside down for a second.


When you think about it though, wrecking is just as much a part of racing as pushing to close the gap, overtake, and cutting down lap times is.  David was doing exactly what he should have been doing, and nothing else.  The only mistake made here was me foolishly not snapping pics of it happening when I saw it through my zoom-lens.  Attempts were made for repair, as tech informed us what we could do to have the car re-approved.


Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to complete it though.  As the checkered flag was waved, I lifted my welding helmet and knew it was time to call it.  Like a doctor on a patient, we walked away from the car calling the time of death at 24:00 (the time read on the engine-hour meter).  The leader boards displayed us in 41st position, of 116.


A few moments later we were gathered around the car for the obligatory team picture that gets taken whether you’re in first, or last, and whether the car is in one piece, or 37.  I’d like to point out that those smiles on our faces aren’t faked; there was no “say cheese” needed here. Sure, we were pretty bummed for a little while, but we stood back, looked at what we had accomplished, where we were, and the fact David was perfectly fine after such a violent roll, and we couldn’t help but smile.  As a first year team, even passing tech with an existing car was a massive accomplishment.  Even just completing the logistics to make it down to Kansas was huge.  We competed in all of the events, and did it with style.  To top it all off, we still managed to finish in a decent position with a team a fraction of the size of any other team there.  Our heads are held high.


So what’s next?  Well the MkIII will be repaired and subsequently retired, but it will still be enjoyed for non-competition use on the odd occasion.  I would also like to thank team mates Denis and Garret for being so awesome throughout the competition.  The car wouldn’t have competed had they not been there.  The great thing about going to competition is brainstorming ideas from all of the inspiring builds around you.  David has some changes in store to the MkIV coming up and as a result, it will be better than it ever would have been had we rushed it.  So thank you Rusty Roxanne, your sacrifice has already made your successor a better car.

Check back later in the summer for an update on the MkIV build!

New Year, New Team, New Build: Introducing the 2014 Baja Season

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I’m pretty sure I can speak for both myself as well as David Taylor, when I say I was honoured to take over the Cougar Motorsports SAE team at the University of Regina. Growing up as a car nut, you have certain expectations as to what you want to do with your passion.  Never once, did I think that I would be on a world-class racing team, let alone be given the opportunity of being president of one.


My name is Sean Lobb.  I am a 4th year Geology major, and I was handed down the President position of Cougar Motorsports by Luke Shaheen.  Cars have been a life long passion for me, so when Luke told me I would be taking over the SAE team, I got both nervous and excited.  Why both?  Well you see, actually handling a team such as this is an incredible task to keep up with amongst the chaos of the school year.  Balancing assignments and exams with a build schedule, sponsors, budgets, and shop safety is quite the task.  The exciting part? Well that’s easy.  It may be stressful at times, but actually getting to build your own race car is the ultimate childhood dream come true.  Racing it? That’s on a whole other level completely.  The downside to being in Geology, is that if I were to be asked to design virtually any part on the car in the most optimal way, I would be out to lunch.  This is where David Taylor comes in.

Baja Rochester Day 4 Endurance Race 404 (2)

Preferably, David would have written his own segment right here.  But seeing as he is putting the finishing touches on the new design’s pedal box as I type this, I think I can give some insight as to what his year looked like.  Take a 2nd year Engineering student in the middle of his studies, and ask him to design what some people consider to be a 4th year engineering project…  by himself.  Being part of the team during the 2013 season was an enormous aid in this challenge, as well as the much appreciated advice from previous year’s members Avery Folk, Luke Shaheen, and Colin Neil.  When Avery handed the Team Captain position to David, I’m sure that same mixture of nervousness and excitement ran through him as well.


Having the incredibly successful MkIII Baja to go off of for design, we stuck to the team’s core values: Strength and simplicity.  This combination has proven to work time and time again;  it provides a lightweight, optimally designed chassis, with a bulletproof driveline and suspension set up.  The goal this year is to shorten the wheelbase, lower the center of gravity, and optimize the front-end to tackle obstacles with even more ease.  The results of this will provide us with a car that will handle sharper, be less prone to rolling, and more stable when overcoming obstacles in it’s path.

Iso half assembled 2014 Baja

David’s interpretation of our goals is nothing short of incredible.  While keeping the exact same suspension geometry that worked so well, the wheelbase has been shortened significantly.  If you’re familiar with previous Baja designs, you will notice that the front end has undergone extensive modification;  this will allow the car to get over those near-impossible logs just that much easier.  We are coming for you, Big Bertha.

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Of course, none of this would be possible without the never-ending help from our sponsors.  Trying to stay away from sounding  like an Oscar winning acceptance speech here,  the team would like to thank every company, group, organization and individual involved.  A few special cases must be mentioned however;  Gord Secuur and Matt Folk both went above and beyond with bringing invaluable experience to get us up and running with the right equipment and know-how.  Another special thank you goes out to Louis Martin for letting us hassle him in his shop on Sunday afternoons to get his expert advice.

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With everyone except David and I convocating this past year (seen above), we had no choice but to recruit an entirely new team.  Multiple events were held during the opening weeks of classes to raise awareness of the team, and the result was truly overwhelming.  Our sign up sheets tipped the scales this year at 64 names; more than 4 times any other year’s numbers.  With the massive turnouts for the first month or two, all “spring cleaning in the fall” duties were taken care of, and the team was in good order.  As time goes on with any club, some people fall away due to school work, but this revealed a reliable, hard working core group of fellow students.

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This year we are scheduled for the Pittsburgh, Kansas competition taking place from May 22-25th.  Currently we are getting ready to leave, and still working strong towards our deadline.  Late nights full of McDonalds runs, dirty hands, mistakes, and triumphs are ahead of us in the coming weeks.  If you told me a year ago that I would be running the team together with David Taylor, I would have laughed pretty hard and told you to get serious.  But looking outside of the shop office right now, and seeing a real-life Baja chassis in the works? I’m pretty blown away.  It just goes to show what a little hard work and dedication can do. Check back at the end of May for an update about the results of the Kansas competition!

Competition Update – Rochester, New York

Thank you again to all of our sponsors who contributed to the success of the 2013 Baja Project! Also, thanks to all of the students who stuck it out this year and put in hard time and effort in order to build an internationally competitive Baja and establish a university team that the UofR should be proud to endorse!

Also, check out our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cougar-Motorsports/223183351080724 where you’ll find more updates, information, and media!


An exciting endurance event capped-off the Baja SAE Rochester dynamic events on Sunday, and the UofR put on a show of exceptional speed, agility and reliability. The full 4 hour race was completed without a single mechanical issue! Unfortunately, a defective goggle lens required replacing and set the car back to 40th place after the first hour, but it then went on to catch back up to 11th place over the following 3 hours!


Cougar Motorsports fought their way through some very challenging dynamics events on Saturday, June 8th, and still came out with some respectable finishes – the best of which was 6th in the suspension and traction event.

Two World Class Finishes in Bellingham!

Cougar Motorsports took two vehicles to the Western Washington Baja SAE International Competition May 6th-9th, and both produced very impressive results!

One of the vehicles is a refurbished 2012 model returning to the competition to prove it’s dominance a second year in a row, while the other is a completely new car which borrowed some fundamental design points from its predecessor while showcasing an entirely new set of higher performance components.

In the endurance event, the 2012 model finished in 13th, after having some mechanical issues with a shift cable, while the 2013 vehicle finished in 6th place, even after loosing approximately 30 minutes (4 to 5 laps) due to damage incurred to the tail lights. The difference between 6th and 1st place was only 4 laps.

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Project Baja 2013 Complete

The newest iteration of Cougar Motorsports’ Baja Vehicle has been successfully designed, analysed, fabricated and assembled just in time for the Western Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series Competition.


The vehicle was built as a combined effort of 7 fourth year engineering students from Industrial Systems Engineering (ISE) at the UofR.


Significant amounts of Computer Aided Design, Engineering, and Manufacturing were implemented throughout the project in order to put into practice a specialized set of skills and theoretical knowledge in the field of automotive and power sports engineering from an ISE background.

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Key design components of the car are: high performance suspension and steering systems; highly ergonomic driver seating and controls; and a fully adjustable light-weight drive line sub-frame system. These components combine to create a very feasibly and competitive recreational vehicle for the modern power sports market.

A huge thank you is owed to our team sponsors who can be seen on our sponsor page! Thank you in particular to Derek Gervais of the UofR Sciences machine shop for donating much of his very valuable free time in order to have this car completed for our first competition!

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Please check out our full list of current sponsors for the 2013 season and visit our Facebook page for more pictures, info and updates!


3rd Place – Portland, Oregon Endurance!

Our team competed in the Portland, Oregon competition last weekend and surpassed our original goal of a top 20 finish. After being flagged into the quarantine area after completing the four hour endurance race, we were informed that we finished in third place! We finished 13th in the earlier day 1 events (hill climb, acceleration, maneuverability and rock crawl). Students represented schools from around the world including: France, Pretoria, Mexico and Venezuela. 100 post secondary schools in total registered for the competition.

SAE International has not yet published all of the results but we hope to learn our overall placement for the entire competition in the next few weeks.

Progress Update

The rear wheels now fit on the car and the rear suspension is complete and painted. The front suspension needs ball joint mounting tabs before the entire car becomes a rolling chassis. While waiting for ball joint tabs we have finished several body panels and the belly pan. The frame is almost fully welded and is still within an 1/8″, a major improvement over last year’s car.

Rear Suspension Assembly:

Robert has almost completed the design of the electrical system which will utilize two 9 volt batteries instead of the over-sized trailer break-away battery from last season.

Improved Electrical System:

Clarke’s Luggage and Shoe Repair is currently upholstering the seat base, back and headrest which will almost complete the driver’s compartment.

Last year’s baja vehicle has provided the opportunity to begin testing our CVT during construction our current vehicle. During the 2010-2011 season we weren’t able to test and tune our CVT prior to the Peoria, Illinois competition. The new CVT, adopted from the Junior Drag Racing industry, has already made a noticeable improvement to our vehicle’s acceleration. With more tuning we hope to continue to improve acceleration and also top speed.

New Jr Dragster CVT on 2010-2011 Baja:

Project Update

With the exception of a couple of secondary members, the frame of the car is complete. There is still a significant amount of TIG welding remaining, but the frame has remained true and there is very little warping.

We received the first part of our water jet order from Hydro Designs which has allowed us to begin mocking up and tacking on the various tabs and brackets that pull the car together. The front suspension is finished with the exception of the upper a-arms and the rear suspension is currently in progress.

The team also visited Advance Engineered Products, where we cut and formed the aluminum body panels the cover the Baja. The frame and panels have been drilled and the panels are currently mocked up on the Baja and secured with clecos on a temporary basis.

There has also been substantial progress in finishing design, seating/padding, and steering.

January Update

Fabrication has slowed down on the project over the past two months. Emphasis was placed on completing the engineering and design of the project before moving forward.

The 2012 baja frame is nearing completion and the entire buggy is almost completely modeled in CAD. The necessary waterjetted and off the shelf components have been ordered in preparation for the coming weeks. Projected project completion remains early April, which will allow us to test our project before traveling to Portland, Oregon for our first competition of the season!

Frame Update (Lower control arms are also pictured)

January Frame Update

CAD Update