PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Baja is back.
For the second time in four years, Pittsburg State University will be the host for the Baja SAE-Kansas competition, for which more than 100 university teams from the U.S. and other countries already are registered. Sixteen teams are on a waiting list.
Besides being what PSU College of Technology administrators call a tremendous learning opportunity, the event has the potential to inject $2.5 million to $3 million into the area economy, according to tourism officials.
“It’s not every day that thousands of people from all over the country and, as these guys said, from all over the world, ascend on Pittsburg,” said B.J. Harris, director of the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Harris said the event likely will positively affect the Joplin, Mo., area as well, with hotels filling up and increased traffic at restaurants and other businesses, including auto parts stores for last-minute parts and adjustments.
The first Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) event was put on in 1976 at the University of South Carolina. It was patterned off the famed Baja 1,000 off-road desert race. In 2011, PSU played host to the event for the first time.
In advance of such competitions, teams work to design and build off-road cars that meet specific course challenges such as rock climbs. Other elements include static events judged on technical inspection, design and testing on brakes and engines, and dynamic events on the course that are judged on acceleration and maneuverability.
The event is scheduled for May 22-25. On the final day, qualifying teams participate in a grueling, four-hour endurance race on a 1.5-mile track “that is designed to break the cars,” said Bruce Dallman, dean of the College of Technology.
As it was in May 2011, the competition will be held on PSU property east of Rouse Street near the Student Recreation Center and the Kansas Polymer Research Center. The location is within sight of the Kansas Technology Center, where work will get under way in coming weeks on preparations for the anticipated 1,100 competitors and hundreds of spectators.
PSU President Steve Scott praised the leadership and work of the faculty and staff, as well as the level of involvement by the community, that made playing host for the event possible.
“The fact that PSU was chosen to host the event ... is a testament to the strong spirit of cooperation between the university and the community,” Scott said.
“An event like this places Pittsburg State University exactly where we want to be, not just on the national map but the international stage.”
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Baja is back.
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