Baja SAE is an intercollegiate design competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Universities from all over the world design and build small off-road cars. The cars all have engines of the same specifications. As of [2009 the engine has been an unmodified Briggs & Stratton Intek 20 with a power output of approximately 10 bhp (7.5 kW).
The goal in Baja SAE racing is to design, build and race off-road vehicles that can withstand the harshest elements of rough terrain. The vehicles used in Baja SAE racing are often similar to dune buggies. Before 2007, the events were called "Mini Baja."
Each year as many as 141 Baja cars are entered in the Baja SAE events across the US and around the world. All cars must adhere to SAE's rules, and pass SAE's technical inspection and judging. Until all judging and safety inspections are finished the car may not race. Small engine manufacturer, Briggs & Stratton, sponsors Baja SAE teams by providing the SAE sanctioned engine free of charge, at a replacement rate of one engine for every two years in competition.
There are multiple dynamic events, usually four per event, as well as an endurance run of four hours. The dynamic events include hill climbs, chain pulls, maneuverability events, rock crawls, and suspension& traction events. At the East event the car has to be able to float and propel itself under its own power. Usually the four-hour endurance race also transverses the water course.
Static events, such as written reports, presentations and design evaluations are provided by participating teams. This is when the teams are judged on ergonomics, functionality, and producibility of their cars; ensuring that the final placement of the team does not rest solely on the vehicle's performance but rather on a combination of static and dynamic events. Required reports detail the engineering and design process that was used in developing each system of the team’s vehicle supported with sound engineering principles. Also, a cost report that provides all the background information necessary to verify the vehicle’s actual cost is used to rate the most economically feasible for production. These reports are submitted weeks in advance of each event, where the presentations and design evaluations are given on site in the presence of SAE design judges.
The Baja SAE Competition originated at the University of South Carolina in 1976, under the supervision of Dr. J. F. Stevens. Since that time, the competition has grown to become a premier engineering design series for university teams.
Baja SAE is an intercollegiate engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate engineering students. The object of the competition is to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Each team is competing to have its design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm. The students must function as a team to design, build, test, promote and compete a vehicle within the limits of the rules, also to generate financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities.
Each team's goal is to design and build a prototype of a rugged, single seat, off-road recreational vehicle intended for sale to the non-professional weekend off-road enthusiast. The vehicle must be safe, easily transported, easily maintained and fun to drive. It should be able to negotiate rough terrain without damage. As of 2004, the SAE Mini Baja Series consisted of seven competitions.
A Baja SAE "event" consists of three to four days.
The dynamic events in the Mini Baja West competition consist of Hill Climb, Acceleration, Maneuverability, Rock Crawl, 4-Hour Endurance Race.