Off-road racing has been around for decades, and with all the evolution of technology in the sport it is hard to be unique and new. Georgia Southern University (GSU) has found a way to stand out amongst the off-road crowd with the true test coming later this year at the Baja 1000.
GSU is the first college team to build a UTV, and race the Baja 1000. The Eagle Motorsports team is heading in to uncharted waters not just in the sport, but for the University as well. We sat down with Kara Dees, co-captain of the GSU SCORE International Racing Team to find out more about the program and the build.
Off Road Xtreme: How did the Eagle Motorsports program get started?
Kara Dees: “Eagle Motorsports is an organization at Georgia Southern University which enables students to bring their engineering skills acquired from various classes to fruition. As a program that began in the late 1980’s, we were one of the first universities to join the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). SAE is a program which facilitates collegiate racing by building Formula (On-road) and Baja (Off-road) vehicles. For both Baja and Formula, there are certain specifications required to be met in order to partake. Our Baja team is a top 10 Baja team and our Formula team is a top 20 Formula team.”
“We are no strangers to hard work and competing with excellence at a collegiate level. As of October last year, Eagle Motorsports decided to take part in the Baja 1000 race. Baja 1000 is a large-scale race that exists on a level that hasn’t been raced before from a collegiate team coming from competing against other colleges to racing alongside professionals. It was clear that there is no way to better test ourselves than to take part in such a prestigious race- debatably the second largest race in the world behind the Dakar Rally.
ORX: Who is a part of the program? All students?
KD: “Our racing team is a diverse group of talented engineers that have the desire for applied learning and achieving great success. All Georgia Southern students with an interest in automotive engineering are encouraged to take part of Eagle Motorsports – regardless of how much experience they have. Eagle Motorsports accepts applicants twice per school year. All students of Georgia Southern University are welcome to apply. Each year, Eagle Motorsports accepts 60 prospective members to go through a new member process.”
“This six week intensive process involves both bi-weekly educational lectures that are taught by Senior Eagle Motorsports members and three ‘shop hours’ each week to provide new members a safe environment to explore various aspects of engineering. By being in the shop on a regular basis, students have the ability to learn from those around them and become more proficient with advanced engineering skills.”
ORX: What is the goal of the program?
KD: “The goal of the program is to get students as familiar with applicable engineering skills from classroom knowledge, which can be used to further knowledge once they are entered into the work force. The program keeps the material interesting so that each student hungers for more knowledge. The program is comprehensive from applied learning to professional presentation in order to best equip our engineers for future careers.”
ORX: Why did the team select a UTV to race in the Baja 1000?
KD: “That’s actually a funny story, our team decided to choose a UTV to race in the Baja 1000 mainly because when we began our journey back in August 2014, we had the idea to use an old Baja SAE chassis to compete in the UTV class. This clearly shows how little we knew about what we were getting ourselves into in the beginning. When we realized that the SAE chassis would not be sufficient, we began searching for other options in that same class due to familiarity with the rules and regulations from previous research. Our knowledge of the vehicle and race has grown exponentially since then.”
ORX: What does the team hope to achieve by heading to Baja?
KD: “To share our goals. It is important to share the overarching goal of Eagle Motorsports. Eagle Motorsports is an elite organization, consisting of three teams, which meets and exceeds a set standard of excellence year-round. Our mission is to achieve this through providing the environment for Georgia Southern engineers to develop applicable skills from classroom knowledge.”
ORX: Does the team have racing experience? Off-road experience?
KD: “We have several members who have been racing since their youth. In fact, many of our team members grew up working with vehicles. Our team is very diverse and has members who are at all different points of experience throughout the spectrum. Granted, since none have been able to take part in such a prestigious race, it’s a great motivator for all of our team members taking on this great challenge to put in every bit of effort to be successful.”
Stay tuned as we continue to check in the the Eagle Motorsports team as they prepare for the adventure of a lifetime racing in this years Baja 1000. We also look forward to catching up with them down in Baja later this year and meeting this extraordinary group of students.