Life in ?Vee? fast lane

9th March 2016

Motorsport students at Barking & Dagenham College are on the fast track to an interesting career, after getting the chance to work on a real racing car.

Beetle racing

Formula Vee or Formula Volkswagen is a popular, low-cost, open wheel, single-seater junior motor racing formula. The Formula Vee car is based around a 1973 VW Beetle. It has the engine, gearbox, suspension, steering and brakes from a Beetle, which are put into a space frame chassis and raced on different tracks around the UK.

Student performance

Barking & Dagenham College bought the £3,000 second hand Formula Vee car for its Motorsport students to work on, because having a real life racing car is essential to their studies.

It helps them to practise real scenarios such as doing a pit stop when the car has a puncture during a race. It also enables them to understand the difference between the normal day-to-day cars and their technology, compared to performance cars. On a racing car, students also learn that everything can be adjusted to change the way a car handles, giving the driver better control at faster speeds.

Nick Jackman, Lecturer in Motorsport Engineering says:

"Once the students complete their studies, they can go into various different jobs, ranging from: junior mechanic on a race car, tuning road cars or perhaps they might go off to university to study further with the aim of hopefully, end up in Formula 1.

"We have ex-students who have managed to secure interesting jobs; one is now a junior engineer at the Red Bull F1 team and a couple of them work for different car manufacturers on their race car projects.”

Getting ready for the track

Motorsport student, Nirav Vyas, 20, from Ilford, said of the experience:

“It’s taken about 6 months of teamwork to overhaul the whole car – the braking, steering and engine systems – and it’s been a great experience to really understand how our work has an impact on performance. We’ll be putting the car through its paces on a test track in May, and we’re hoping for a top speed of around 120 mph.”

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