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UA Students Show Off Zippy ‘ZR12’ They Built For Racing
By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer
The University of Akron Zips Racing Team unveiled the race car it built for international competitions later this year in a ballroom ceremony Monday at the UA Student Center.
“On behalf of the 25 students that it took to make this car possible, with 20,000 man hours invested over the past nine months, I’d like to present to you the ZR12,” team captain Dan Lough said as team leaders removed the black covering to reveal a sleek open-wheel race car about a fourth of the size of an Indy 500 car.
The ZR12 (Zips Racing 2012) is painted blue on top with a white stripe and black below the stripe.
“It will do zero to 60 in about three-and-a-half seconds and reach a top speed of 120 ... theoretically,” Lough said.
When the team begins the race season next month in Michigan, student drivers won’t be allowed to drive faster than about 55 mph, said faculty adviser Richard Gross.
“They do not want students – some who are very good drivers, some who are not – doing anything foolish, so they try and keep the speeds under control,” Gross said.
Since 1990, the University of Akron has competed annually in the Society of Automotive Engineering’s Formula SAE design competition. Students design and build a race car, which they enter in competitions that test acceleration, cornering ability and, finally, the ability to run 22 kilometers (just over 10 miles) without needing any adjustment. About halfway through the endurance race, the teams switch drivers and the cars are inspected for safety.
“If they find a bolt starting to come loose, you are done for the day,” Gross said. “If they find a little drop of oil on the ground or something, you’re done. It’s extremely strict.”
After the competition in Michigan, the team will race the car in Germany and Austria in August and in Canada in October. Local fans can watch the team race in Akron at the Goodyear Testing Grounds on Sept. 22.
The students make 90 percent of the car’s parts, improving on the previous year’s car.
Team leaders were Ryan Kruse, suspension; Maddy Mann, composites; John Buchanan, drivetrain; Michan Limbacher, chassis; Ben DiMarco, brakes and Dominick DeMasi Jr., engine.
The car runs on a 4-cylinder, 600cc Yamaha R6 motorcycle engine with sequential fuel injection. DeMasi, a fifth-year senior majoring in mechanical engineering, needed a better way to get data and use to it make a powerful car.
DeMasi took advantage of a paid internship with MoTeC, an Australian-based firm that creates computer systems to control and collect data about engine performance, to improve the Zips Racing Team’s testing and data analysis procedures.
DeMasi worked last summer at MoTeC’s facility in North Carolina, or as he puts it, “NASCAR country.”
“I learned so much more from being there that I figured out new ways to implement their products in ways that would help us,” DeMasi said. “Down there, I was working with a lot of professional racing teams, helping them solve their problems, and I started realizing ways to solve my own.”
Meanwhile, DiMarco worked on making the brakes lighter and the cockpit more comfortable for the driver. Last year’s car weighed 446 pounds and the team wanted to shave that down to 430. He helped them get it down to 425 pounds.
DiMarco and DeMasi already have jobs lined up after they graduate this year with Honda R & D Americas near Marysville.
“We’re going to live together,” DiMarco said. “He’s doing engines and I’m doing brakes. That’s what we did here. It really carries over.”
The JV Squad went 9-0 in League play and made the Championship for the third time, 2nd in a row. They came up short again as the Brunswick Jets prevailed 12-0. The squad was coached by Head Coach Dave Walker, who moved up from Pee Wee, and Assistants Mark Crooks, Carmen Monaco and Andrew Nigh.
The Pee Wee Squad was under the direction of Head Coach Ryan Sweeney who moved up from the Flag Squad. He and Assistants Scott Marcum, Gary Merker, and Kirk Vozar had a few ups and downs, but did have a successful season at that level. This division keeps score but does not award a Championship. They receive instruction on tackle football get ready to move up to the JV Division after 2 seasons.
The Jets Flag Squad is made up of 5 and 6 year olds. They get an introduction to football and ease into playing tackle when they move to the Pee Wee Division at age 7. The Flag team was coached by Head Coach Scott Marcum and Assistant Mike Augustine.
Kara Seese returned to coach Jets Varsity Cheerleaders, as did Tammy Potter with the Jets JV Cheer Squad. The Pee Wee Squad had Head Coach Ann Vogt and assistance from Sherry Graham and Kristen Novick. The Flag Squad had two new coaches in Renee Geyer and Danielle Roberts.
The Jets had great support and fund raising from their Team Moms. They were led by Head Team Mom Audrey Calame from the JV Squad and Kristen Nemes (Varsity), Heidi Sweeney (Pee Wee) and Jessica Marcum (Flag).
The JV Squad made it to the playoffs for the 3rd time going 7-3 on the season. The Jags JV were coached by 1st year Head Coach Kevin Capela and Assistants Cleatus Varney, Dennis Galdun and Mickey Ballantyne.
The Jags Pee Wee Squad got their 4th Season under their belt and had a good year under Head Coach Jon Stahl and Assistants Jason Mamrak, Dave Chaney and Bob Chegan.
The Jags Flag Squad is made up of 5 and 6 year olds. They get an introduction to football and ease into playing tackle when they move to the Pee Wee Division at age 7. The Flag team was coached by Head Coach Paul Schnepp and Assistant Mike Knapp.
Head Coach Sheila Schnepp and Sue Lyons coached the Jags Varsity Cheerleaders, Cathy Maslanka coached the JV Jags Cheerleaders, Amy Nutter coached the Pee Wee Cheer Squad and Tracey Johnson coached the Jags Flag Cheerleaders.The Jags had support and fund raising from their Team Moms. They were led by Head Team Mom Dawn Fowler along with Tina Kutolowski (Varsity), Chris Demagall (JV), Dawn Chegan (Pee Wee) and Jen Knapp (Flag).