CBR-Powered Autocrosser! Get the Scoop on This Formula SAE Car

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Ever wonder just how complex a student-competition race car can be? This video describes the level of painstaking detail.

When you think Honda-powered race car, your mind probably turns over a McLaren-Honda F1 car. No, not that one. The good one. Or an IndyCar. Maybe an NSX GT3. But a 600 cc autocross special? That’s a different animal altogether.

In another one of his great technical discussions, Andre from the High-Performance Academy talks shop with a Formula SAE engine tuner. If you’re not familiar with either, New Zealand’s HPA logs some incredibly helpful tuning tips on their YouTube page.

Formula SAE CBR600

And Formula SAE? That’s a college competition to see who builds a better autocrossing car within a set of regulations As you might guess, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) puts it on and many of the American auto industry’s greatest minds get their start there.

In the interview, Andre talks with a member of Kansas University’s team, Jayhawk Motorsports. While FSAE competition includes several classes, the Jayhawks squad runs in the 600cc class. That presents a number of interesting challenges in tuning the engine.

With the CBR600 sportbike engine running E85 fuel, the engine can only breathe through a 19-millimeter (about 11/16-inch) restrictor. How much of a restriction is that? A stock CBR600 bike makes about 100 horsepower; the FSAE engine peaks at about 75 ponies.

The discussion gets very technical, but the team tune around that restrictor. That means altering things parameters like exhaust timing and camshaft angle. The end result is a car that while not the fastest, makes the most performance for its fuel efficiency, which is how one major category of the competition (endurance) is graded.

Some would say instead engine tuning is an art form while others would call it an exacting science. However you feel about it, this discussion takes the complexities of it and explains it in a very tangible way.

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