A conversation that started over coffee led a group of young automotive enthusiasts from S.R.M university to develop innovative solutions in the automobile field. Here is the story of Camber Racing –
1. What you guys are doing is so inspiring, how did you get started?
It all started over at a coffee table in 2009, when a group of enthusiastic engineering students decided to turn their dreams into reality. After proposing a well-versed plan to the HOD, they decided to go forward with making their first prototype “Open wheel weekend racecar”, CR800. This was the birth of Camber Racing. The idea to be a Formula Student Team was the best exposure to take their concepts from the classroom and put them into a practical environment for these creators.
2. Besides the cool factor, what other real challenges are you solving with your innovation? How can it be useful in the Indian context?
Designing and fabricating a new race car every year requires a set of new innovations to be applied in different areas of the project. Ever since the inception, the team has done constant research to develop parts or inculcate new parts into the car. Inputs from the data acquired from the previous cars have helped majorly in the development of the consecutive vehicle. Also, Forums and seminars have been of importance considering the abundance of information let loose.
3. Can you help our readers better understand your fabrication process?
The car compromises of different subsystems namely Chassis, Powertrain, Aerodynamics, Drivetrain etc. Each department designs their own subsystem in the car and builds it. First, All the materials are procured for the fabrication. All the members are cut and grinded and welded together using Jigs. The Chassis is wholly manufactured and welded by the team. Parts like the Uprights, Hubs, Bulkhead, mounts etc are all manufactured using special processes like CNC Cutting, Water Jet Cutting, Laser Cutting, Lathe etc. Electronics, wiring, dashboard, steering assembly, wheel assembly, suspension system and all the parts are fit along with custom 3D printed intake and a KTM 390 engine powers this beast. Bodyworks and paneling are done by making molds and forming the particular part over it using Carbon Fibre. The Aero kit is made by the team as well and fixed on the masterpiece.
4. What were some of the challenges that you faced?
To be honest, there are new issues and challenges that arise every day or from every test run we have, but the engineers know best to tackle these problems with quick solutions. But, the most challenging part of the team is keeping up to the prescribed timeline and wise management of the funds of the project. It might seem normal to us by now, but pursuing a B. Tech degree in the morning and building a race car at night takes a lot of effort and time. Keeping a balance between the two are quite challenging, but enriching experiences.
Moving towards the production aspect, since we are an international team, the car is made to international qualifications. This, in turn, needs material that cannot be procured in India making the project quite expensive and not time constrained at times. Sometimes, performance is compromised due to the lack of funds or the availability of material of machining opportunity in the country. This badly hampers the development of innovation and the vision of the project as a whole.
5. How did you manage funds for this? How easy or difficult was it to get sponsors on board?
As far as funding is concerned, part of the money is funded by the college and rest of the funds are sought out from sponsorships from various companies.
Yes, Sponsorship has always been a tough nut to crack in a country where such fewer projects like these are evidently not known to exist. Also, since motorsport is quite an expensive affair, so large funding is highly unlikely. But, it must be known that approaching the right people with the right sales pitch has done us good at. Various places in the past and the future seem bright for us. We encourage more companies to join hands with us not because we are an educational entity, but also because we are the future engineers of this country or the respective companies.
6. What have been your biggest achievement so far?
I really think naming one achievement out of all the laurels we have bagged will be quite hard. Ever since 2011, we had made exceptional cars that had performed and won every time we had participated. We have tasted success on multiple occasions in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 as well, with a total of 21 awards including 2 National Championships too. Finding an exact moment would be really hard. Each moment was treasured in its own special realm.
7. Do you guys see yourself pursuing this post-college as well?
Most of us working as part of a Formula Student team are either thrilled to be a part of a racing team or enthusiastic about an adventurous engineering based environment. Yes, Most of us will either move towards the automotive fields based on our domains of interest.
Many automotive giants like Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, Rolls Royce all seek the expertise of us like-minded engineers who have tirelessly worked and gained valuable knowledge in the field of Formula student as these students are the closest to inculcating new technologies for the automotive sector across various sectors of the global market.
8. How do you guys approach your work on this project and manage day to day operations?
Working on this project needs a clear assessment of funds along with time management. So, a well-proposed timeline is made for each subsystem. Whether it’s the design phase of the production phase, each department must stick to the specific timeline. Each day will have some particular job that must be carried out by each person. It is that person’s duty it finish it by the time allotted. This ensures smooth production of the project. Also, the inflow and outflow of money is keenly monitored by the project manager. For every purchase, a data log of the purchase is kept with the bills to make sure that there is no kink to the total budget at the end of the year.
9. How big a role your college has played in your success?
SRM University has helped us immensely with funds, a workshop/fabrication bay, and a lot of facilities to help us learn, develop and iterate our designs. Along with the publicity it gives, our credibility as a team is boosted as we, in turn, get sponsors in the same way.
10. What’s next for your team?
I think the only thing left for us to continue in the same enthusiastic manner to achieve the goals which we had set forth ever since our establishment. That is to be the most iconic formula student team in the world. The whole idea of being a world class team and winning international class event alongside highly competitive teams from around the globe are going to define who we are and how we tackle the gap between technologies present at either end. At the end of the day, we seek to excel in the field with all we have at our disposal. We at Camber Racing not only grow and implement our intellectual skills but also develop a fond sense of teamwork, leadership, prospect assessment and an unfailing attitude to learn and deliver more, thus adhering to our mission- “Building people, not just cars!”
Read more stories like this here – My Stories