Animesh Pradhan | Feb 18, 2019

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World-renowned artist Edward Hopper's Nighthawks was probably his most ambitious painting in capturing the night-time effects of human effort. If Edward Hopper were asked to paint NIT Rourkela’s very own Nighthawks, it would most probably resemble the Central Workshop, team Roadrunner and their sheer perseverance in manufacturing Formula Cars. Team Roadrunner of SAE, NIT Rourkela participated in the prestigious Formula Bharat 2019. This congregation of automotive geeks was held at Kari Motor Sport, Coimbatore from 23 Jan to 28 Jan 2019.  The team comprising of 38 members which were led by Abinash Behera, participated with their 9th car named R9-19 in Formula Bharat 2019.

The competition witnessed a footfall of around 80 teams from different institutes of the country including IIT Madras, Delhi Technical University, IIT KGP, Thapar University, and Gujarat Technical University. R9-19 is a single seated, open wheel type Formula vehicle specified for racing. The petrol powered racing car was fitted with a KTM 390 Single Cylinder Engine, while the chassis was made of AISI Mild Steel Rod.

As a pre-requisite for participating in Formula Bharat, the team had to fight through the Rule Quiz round which was held in April 2018 serving as the qualifying stage of the contest. Team Road Runner emerged as the 10th best team hence qualifying for the competition. Adhering to the rules of the competition, the team submitted the Engineering Design Report (EDR), System Equivalency Spreadsheets (SES) and Cost Report. Along with these reports, the team completed the ‘Photo Submission’ task but could not submit the required video before the deadline.

The competition spanning over five days comprised of static and dynamic rounds. As per the rules and regulations, the team had to clear the safety inspection rounds by the end of the fourth day. Due to tendering issues, the team had to change the plans at the eleventh hour and hence the vehicle was disassembled and transported through the train.

Day 1:

On reaching the site, the team worked hard to assemble the parts of the vehicle and made it ready for the Safety Inspection along with Technical Inspection, Tilt Inspection, Noise Inspection, and Brakes Inspection. Few safety failures were pointed out by the judges on the first day which were later rectified by the team members.

Day 2:

The team went through the Technical Inspection round. The round includes testing of vehicles on the basis of many technical parameters coupled with few safety restrictions.

Day 3:

Due to a few anomalies in the three-year-old engine, the team had to send it for repair and therefore did not go to the competition site.

Day 4:

By the 4th day, the team was back with the repaired engine having cleared all the technical inspection rounds. Unfortunately, the vehicle could not pass the Tilt round and as a result, the team Roadrunner was disqualified from the tournament.

The vehicle had problems in its fuel tank because of which when tilted at 45 degrees, fuel leaked from the tank which turned out to be a regrettable climax for the hard-working team.

Due to the disqualification, the team could not participate in the ‘dynamic rounds’ comprising of Skid pad, acceleration, endurance, autocross, and efficiency tests. Running parallel, few static events were conducted by the organizers. These events include Cost Report presentation where the team had to account for the components used/purchased/manufactured for the vehicle. This required them to justify the use of different components and the reason behind taking such decisions. In the Design Report Presentation, the team presented the various design methods and approaches they had undertaken to manufacture the Formula car. Along with these events, the team presented the Business plan where they talked about the prospects of mass marketing of their own manufactured vehicle.

Team GTU Motor Sports from Gujarat Technical University emerged as the winner of the competition whereas Team Octane Racing from College of Engineering, Pune and Formula Manipal from Manipal Academy of Higher Education, bagged the runners-up and second runners-up positions respectively.

While we talked about the changes in strategy, the freshly selected Captain of the team, Abhishek Pramanik elaboratively responded:

We are going to do data acquisition this year and implement it on the previous vehicle which we have so that we will get to know about the feedback of the vehicle and thus we can validate our design and decrease the gap between theoretical values. Then we can alter our vehicle to get the maximum performance and get a well-engineered car.

He further added:

This year we had made the complete vehicle from scratch. So the team got experienced in manufacturing as well as procurement. We had made the vehicle technically better and thus were successful in clearing the Technical Inspection in 2nd try only.

Currently, the team is gearing up to participate in Supra SAE 2020. Since Team Road Runner will be developing a different kind of powertrain from this year and see if it is feasible for the team or not, given the current scenario, they are aiming for Formula Bharat vehicle concept challenge 2019 to be held in October 2019.


Everyone who is even slightly aware of SAE and Team Road Runner must have acknowledged the amount of dedication and devotion they put into their work. But unfortunately, the team repeatedly has not been able to achieve what it deserves for a lot of reasons.

Coming to failures, this happens every year due to use of old parts and the team is unable to buy new parts due to lack of budget as automotive parts are very costly and difficult to procure in the east. The team is using the following components since 2015 and have tried their best to fix them. But there is an urgent need to change these parts since they have worn out and need to be replaced.


Cost(in INR)

Impact Attenuator

25000 (excluding GST)

Brake callipers(Wilwood GP200)

13620 each total=13620x4=Rs 54480(including GST)

Brake routings


Wheels (Hoosier 44115 10”)

22200 each total = 22200*4 = 88800

Rims (DWT rim 006-12)

6900(excluding GST) total= 6900*4= 27600

Since the team will be changing suspension design this year, the forces on the wheels are likely to be changed. Necessary Expenditure of event includes Registration fees worth Rs.88500 (including GST), transportation and packing of the vehicle along with miscellaneous expenditure during the event.

The Ex-captain, Abinash Behera also responded about the new plans:

The team already have a good knowledge transfer methods implemented but still to make it more smooth we will be documenting each failure and success situation this year so that future teams will remember not to repeat same mistakes year after year. Furthermore, unlike every year, most of the team members will be continuing after the competition as well that would enhance the overall productivity of the club.   

He expressed his discontent regarding the hurdles they faced:

Budget comes as a prime constraint in manufacturing the car, as a result, we are relying on old components. Since the reimbursement comes either during competition or after the competition, team members get drained out of money as well. This proves to be a major hurdle for the team which is a matter of serious concern.

Hard work pays off and the patience and perseverance of Team Road Runner assures us that victory is not really far. Team MM wishes good luck for all their future endeavors.



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