Racing team riding high

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By Josh Wingrove

Gentlemen, start your engines. The fight for funding is about to begin.

Two weeks into their season, the Ryerson Formula Society of Automotive Engineers racing team members still have no idea what funding — if any — they’re receiving from the university, their major sponsor in the past.

“They do give us support … we can always use more. It would really help,” said club president Edwin Steele, emphasizing the university has been the club’s biggest backer to date.

The team’s first event was the University of Toronto Shootout in Peterborough two weekends ago. The team finished eighth in a 14-team field.

The U of T team’s annual budget is over $70,000, “considerably more” than Ryerson’s, Steele said.

The team isn’t necessarily looking for more and would glady take the same amount as they were given last year, said driver Adam Tomaszewski.

“If we could get that (amount) again, it would be a gift from God,” he said.

The Ryerson team has no parking spot for its car, which can reach 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds. They carry the 462-pound frame out of their basement office because there’s no ramp. They share the office with Ryerson’s dunebuggy-building Baja Team.

“At times we are literally climbing over each other,” Steele said.

The team’s faculty supervisor, Donatus Oguamanon, envies the funding New York State’s Cornell University gets from companies such as GM, Chrysler and Honda.

“We’ve not reached that point where we can go without the university’s support. The university’s funding is very important to us,” Oguamanon said.

He said it’s a fair tradeoff. The car appears at the Molson Indy and the University Fair to plug Ryerson’s name.

“They use our car to promote the school, it’s competitive and it’s tied academically to our program. It reflects well on the university,” Tomaszewski said, adding the car is an icon of Ryerson’s blend of academic theory and hands-on practice.

“Once you get in there and start applying what you know, you start to feel like school isn’t a waste of time,” Tomaszewski said.

The team has had success in the past, most recently finishing 10th of 140 teams in a major Michigan race and 16th of 82 teams in a United Kingdom event in 2005. Both are staggering achievements for Ryerson’s emerging engineering program. After a dismal 2006 campaign, the team is looking to get back on track.

They’re meeting with Stalin Boctor, dean of engineering and applied sciences, to see what support they’ll have. The team will endure, Steele said, but more support yields stronger results.

“We’ll see what we get,” Tomaszewski said.

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