The Bronco FSAE team displayedits award-winning race cars at the LA Auto Show representing Cal Poly Pomona’s learn by doing motto and showcasing the legacy of the school’s racing program.
Amrita Sneha Ramakrishnan, the Bronco FSAE team president and business lead initially contacted the LA Auto Show when the team was out testing one of its cars in the overflow parking lot. According to Ramakrishnan, she contacted the LA Auto Show through her LinkedIn and shared the Bronco FSAE team’s portfolio and accomplishments, and she got a response in a matter of five minutes.
“It was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had to be honest,” Ramakrishnan said about attending the auto show. “I visit most years at the LA Auto Show, and the cool part is the year that I was an intern for our team, it was that year I went to the LA Auto Show, and I thought it would be very, very cool for our team to be here. And that was me before being an official team member. And so, when I got the call that we would be able to go to the LA Auto Show that was like the best news.”
The team initially brought its 2023 racecar, BM-23, to the auto show, but after the first day they decided to add the 2016 racecar since space allowed. Both cars were on display for five days at the auto show.
BM-23 and Car-2016 both feature a 4130 chrome-moly steel space frame and Yamaha R6 engine. The biggest difference, besides the two vehicles’ livery, is in their aerodynamic components. Car-2016 sports a larger triple element front wing, while the BM-23 has a smaller double element front wing.
BM-23 is unique in the lineup of previous builds for Bronco Motorsport since the car is the longest running most decorated vehicle in the club’s history according to the Bronco Motorsports YouTube channel.
The origins of BM-23 came from a 2020 build during the COVID-19 pandemic and was updated until 2023. Ayson Mar, the Bronco FSAE design lead recalled the situation the team was in after COVID.
“As they (alumni) graduate, sometimes they take with them some of the important things about the car’s design with them and if the new team isn’t understanding of why we made certain design decisions, that knowledge gets lost,” Mar said. “So, we were really worried about the continuation of the program, but having built that car, we were able to compete and really hold on to the knowledge that the alumni have for us. It was our biggest fear that if we didn’t compete with the BM-23 in that competition, that people will leave the team, and the team would basically become non-existent. It was really important for us to go to competition and continue the program that year.”
During the 2022 Michigan competition, BM-23 placed No. 13 overall and was in the top 10 fastest cars in the country.
According to Ramakrishnan, a change in the timeline between the 2022 and 2023 Michigan competition, moving the date to May from June, allowed the team to build on their BM-22 design since the rules stated the team can only have one chassis per calendar year.
“We thought that it would be a great idea that instead of manufacturing a whole new chassis, we would use the same ‘22 chassis but make improvements to the powertrain, to the vehicle dynamics, the aero components and all of that,” Ramakrishnan said. “So, we made all the different changes to the ‘23 car. And then when we went there (Michigan), it was one of the six fastest cars in the country. So, the car that we just retired, BM-23, is really fast.”
Before the LA Auto Show, BM-23 was refreshed with new tires and had its nose cone rewrapped after its last outing at the track, sustaining some chips and scratches.
No current member of the FSAE team worked on Car-2016, but the car is legendary in the club’s history since it placed third overall in the FSAE West competition in 2016, and was the last vehicle to go international, racing in Austria, Italy and Germany. Car-16 won No. 10 overall in Engineering at the Germany competition in 2016.
“It was bringing awareness to the SAE program and our school in general,” Mar said about the LA Auto show. “There’s a lot of people that actually haven’t heard of our program before. So, just bringing awareness to the younger generation. We had an insane amount of younger kids and you know, future engineers hop in the car and try to turn the steering wheel, press on the brakes and the gas pedal. Just bringing awareness to this entire program and what it can do for the future generations.”
According to the club’s YouTube episode chronicling the LA Auto Show, the last time the Bronco FSAE team was at the LA Auto Show was in 2015. Each racecar is designed within four to six months in the fall and manufactured for the following six months. One racecar can conceivably be drafted, manufactured and tested for competition in one calendar year.
The Bronco Motorsports FSAE is continuing to manufacture a new innovative vehicle they dub “Archangel” according to team’s leadership. In contrast to the many electric vehicles shown at the LA auto show, the Bronco FSAE plan to stick to internal combustion. Archangel is set to be unveiled around March of this year.
For more information on Bronco Motorsports visit the team’s website.
Feature Image Courtesy of Amrita Sneha Ramakrishna.