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May 4, 2017

SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing members pushing their limits in advance of international contest

The hard-working, motivated members of the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing team are hoping for a top 10 finish this year at the at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Collegiate Design Series on May 10-13 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the team's faculty advisor since 1998, said he has high hopes for the group.

“I’m proud to say we have talented, motivated, and innovative students on this year's team,” he said.

This year's team members have devoted long hours to careful testing as they seek to combine performance and stability and meet a team goal of winning the acceleration event, and be the fastest car to drive a 75-meter straight track at the competition. SVSU twice has built the fastest race car in the world, winning the acceleration category in 2008 and 2014.

Alex Ginn, a mechanical engineering major from Trenton, is one of those Cardinal Formula Racing team members who has spent countless hours in the race shop preparing for competition.

“We are trying for another top 10 performance this year,” Ginn said.
The annual FSAE Collegiate Design Series competition features about 120 teams, from world-renowned colleges and universities with esteemed mechanical engineering programs. Teams from higher education institutions across the globe design and build Indy-style race cars to compete at the series, which features multiple competition categories such as endurance, acceleration, autocross, cost, presentation, and skid pad.

Each of the past two years, SVSU posted the top score among schools without a graduate program in engineering.  

“We are the most successful fully undergraduate team in the history of the FSAE,” Ginn said.

In 2016, SVSU finished 30th overall, ahead of teams such as the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (No. 46), Northwestern (No. 53) and Georgia Tech (No. 54).

“Our students have put in the time. I am hopeful they and the race car will perform up to their capabilities,” said Byam, who in 2013 won the Carroll Smith Mentor’s Cup, given annually to one outstanding Society of Automotive Engineers faculty advisor.

Cardinal Formula Racing has placed in the top 20 four times overall: 6th place in 2002, 8th in 2005, 14th  in 2008 and 18th  in 2010.

Graduates of SVSU’s program are highly desired by automotive companies and other manufacturers, though some have chosen other paths.

Nevin Steinbrink started his own engineering firm in Old Town Saginaw. (

Midland native Allen Hart is an engineer for J.R. Motorsports on the NASCAR Xfinity Series; his team finished runner- up at the Dash 4 Cash event at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia last weekend.

For more information on SVSU’s Cardinal Formula Racing program, visit