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WIDIA Supports University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Formula SAE

At WIDIA, we believe "Extreme Challenges" produce "Extreme Results."


You could say it's for this reason we naturally gravitate towards extracurricular activities and sports that involve EXTREME measures -- like motorsport racing, with a homemade racecar.


Speaking of motorsport racing, the WIDIA Team would like to congratulate our good friends at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor as they prepare to unveil their 2015 Racecar for the upcoming Formula SAE season. As a sponsor for their team, we were fortunate to have played a role in their hard work and success by providing WIDIA tooling to be used towards their vehicle. 


Thank you for your partnership and good luck this season, boys!




Formula SAE is a collegiate motorsport racing series in which students use technical innovation and advanced engineering analysis to build Formula 1 style racecars. Teams design and build a completely new car each year, taking knowledge from previous years and unprecedented innovations out to the track. Fifteen compositions around the world test each team's designs from every aspect with dynamic, design theory, cost, and business events. Every year each of the 500+ teams is given a world ranking based on the team's performance over the past 6 most recent competitions entered. Each team uses its own strategy to gain the most points with the goal of being ranked number one in the world!


This experience in applied engineering gives students a strong competitive advantage after college and prepares them for the best engineering jobs in the world. International competitions also expose the team to different cultures and approaches to engineering.


MRracing is the Formula SAE student team for the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, founded in 1986. With over 25 years of experience, the engineering design team is continually pushing the envelope of vehicle design. In the past 10 years, the MRacing team has consistently finished within the top 10 at a variety of competitions and venues.
This year, MRacing plans to race the MR15 at Michigan International Speedway, Lincoln Airpark, and the Hockenheimring in Germany.


Why Did You Join MRacing?

I joined MRacing because my dad was actually on the first Formula SAE team to ever exist. He went to the University of Texas and often tells me about the useful lessons he learned while being on the team. He also explained that the most useful engineers had hands-on experience. Since the moment I stepped on campus, I couldn't wait to join the team. --Austin Glover, Controls and Composites

What Are The Benefits Of Being on a Design Team?

Being on a design team has been so beneficial to my education because it allows me to apply what I have learned in the classroom to a real world application. It is amazing how much extra you learn when you have to work to build something substantial like a racecar, where the design of every component is crucial to the success of the team as a whole. --Hubbard Velie, Exhaust and Composites

What Was Your Favorite Experience on the Team?

My favorite experience was watching MR14 run for the first time last year. Even after dedicating countless hours towards manufacturing and assembling the car, I wasn't prepared for the exhilarating roar of all our hard work paying off. Watching the car pull around tight turns and maneuvering through slaloms, I knew that we had put together something truly remarkable. --Jason Ye, Suspension

Who Machines the Parts on the Car?

All members of our team go through safety and machine training before being allowed to use the shop. This allows all new members to immediately start machining parts for our car. Once our team members have an understanding of the machines and machining processes, they start to understand designing for manufacturability which is a huge part of our competition. When anyone on our team is designing, the questions always is, "How can I take what I drew on the computer and make it?" --Keenan Temin, Oiling and Fueling

How is MRacing Relationship with WIDIA Beneficial for Your Manufacturing?

Due to the high quality we're looking for in our parts, we really don't settle for anything less than the finishes that WIDIA tools provide. Our partnership with WIDIA is valuable because their tools don't just make our parts... they make them well and ultimately help to alleviate pressure, frustration, time and money. --Peter Karkos, Suspension

FOLLOW MRACING ON Twitter & Facebook!


Rock Racer Driver David Buchberger takes on KOH 2014

With this year's King of the Hammers -- aka "The Ultimate Desert Race" -- right around the corner, Ultra4 fans are gearing up for a bumpy ride! 

We stole time with King of the Hammers competitor and driver of the WIDIA Rock Racer, David Buchberger, for a quick interview in hopes of capturing the excitement that goes along with race prep. Here's what David had to say about his relationship with 4x4 racing (and the WIDIA Rock Racer), his past KOH experiences, and his thoughts going into this year's competition.



Q: David, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been involved in racing?


Well, I'm 36 and I've been wheeling since I was 16, so I've been off-roading more than half my life. All that time, I've been involved in building my own rigs. When you don't have a lot of money, that's how you get started. Growing up, I was welding, grinding, and rebuilding whatever I could to get out there. Racing is a relatively recent development -- within the last five or six years now. The support from WIDIA really took it to the next level.


Q: Good for you. How did you get hooked up with WIDIA?


Hi-Speed Corporation, where I've worked for nearly 12 years now, is the WIDIA representative on the West Coast. My dad was a distributor and I met Jonathan Saada, Hi Speed's owner and founder through him. Jonathan's one of the smartest people I've ever met -- and not just in machining knowledge but how to assess situations and solve problems. Give him a challenge and he'll come back at you with more options than you thought possible. 


I had competed in two King of the Hammers Races and was in the process of building a new race car when Bernie McConnell (VP, WIDIA Products Group and Services) called. We were talking about how he had heard about KOH and what I would think of WIDIA sponsoring the car. Considering my first one took seven years to build and I had already come to grips with sitting out at least the next two seasons to get my next one built, the word that came to mind was "unbelievable." I wouldn't have to miss the next season and the car would be incredibly competitive.


Q: King of the Hammers is right around the corner. Can you tell us what it's all about?


The hammer trails in Johnson Valley, CA, are definitely some of the wildest around. King of the Hammers started with 13 teams (the OG13) racing for a case of beer. This year, it's 215 miles of desert-floor racing with stops for rock-climbing without. Competitors start side-by-side, two vehicles every thirty seconds, and must complete the course in less than 14 hours. Each team must pass through seven checkpoints while staying wihtin one hundred feet of the centerline of the course. KOH is a no-chase-team race; repairs can only be done on the track by the racers or in the pit area. It's the fastest-growing motor sport today, bar none -- the wildest to watch and that much wilder to compete in. There were 13 teams in 2007 and more than 300 last year.


Q: And it spawned its own class of racing, referred to as Ultra4, right?


Right. Ultra4's only requirement is that the race car is capable of 4-wheel drive and strict but fair safety requirements. Beyond that, the class in unlimited, meaning all cars are custom-fabricated and come in all shapes and sizes. To win, you have to be capable fo speeds over 100 MPH and have gear ratios low enough for rock crawling.


4x4 Pre-Running, Nito Tire National Championship, Reno NV. Photo Courtesy: Ultra4 Racing 


Q: There's no sugar-coating it, this course chews up race cars as well. How has yours changed over the years?


It's a progression. The design is 100% mine front to back. My first effort was good, but not competitive. When WIDIA got on board for the 2012 race, that all changed.


Q: How did that change?


Well, I mentioned my first race car took seven years to design and build, and I was prepared to sit out a season to add all the things I wanted before WIDIA got involved. Take trusses for example; they stiffen the axles and support the upper suspension. Most fabricators weld different thicknesses of plate together because you need the perfect balance between light weight and high strength. I was able to take bars of cold-rolled 1818 steel, a grade known for a good balance of strength and ductility, and mill truss components down to 0.040-inch honeycomb for a very strong, yet light component. This kind of work can really eat up hours, but with the new WIDIA-Hanita VariMill II End Mills, we were able to ramp into the material at 40 inches per minute, roughing it with a half-inch mill and finishing the pockets and carving the edges with a three-sixteenths mill.


Let me add how important truss strength is. Last year, another guy hit me so hard it shoved my axle over about eight inches. I went end over end, seven times. There was a quarter-inch plate on the car that peeled away like a pop can, but the truss was perfect. In fact, none of the millwork failed. I wish I could mill the whole car.

Stay Up-to-Date with David

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"Turning" Over a New Leaf 

If you live in a part of the country where the seasons visibly change, going from the end-of-summer slump into the bright colors and cool breezes of fall seems to stir a need for change within ourselves as much as it changes the landscape.

For many, fall is the time of year to try something new, or do something familiar in a different way. It’s the time of year we consider turning over a new leaf.  


Change It Up

If you’re ready to change it up, take a close look at your shop and the tools in it. Is your turning production in a downturn?

It might be time to switch to new tools to improve productivity … think of it as a new leaf for turning.

Are you using the same carbide insert styles that you’ve used for years, simply because you’ve used them for years?   

Consider this: 

  1. When did you last assess the type of inserts you use, how long you’ve used them, and why you use those styles?    

  2. Is the trend in turning productivity in your shop increasing? decreasing? staying flat?

  3. When was the last time you switched tool styles to improve results?    

Advancements in metalworking technology are moving as fast as your lathe’s spindle. Each of these breakthroughs offers a new opportunity for you to turn faster or bore deeper

Use this time of year to bring a season of change to your shop. Make the commitment to assess your turning operations and take action to turn things around. Be open to trying new tools and machining approaches in the name of improved production.


Need help? Try our new WIDIA Victory carbide inserts for turning. Try the inserts for free, and receive a free hat (for a limited time). See the WIDIA Victory Carbide Insert Offer.