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The Winning Drive: Motorsports at the Center for Automotive Research

Buckeye Electric Motorcycle

Online Extra: Watch a video of Ewing describing more details about the motorcycle and follow the team’s progress.

Sean Ewing has been around the world in his tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force, but at Ohio State, he embarks on a journey of a different kind.

Ewing, a senior in electrical and computer engineering, is spearheading the Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Team, which, with more than 40 members from different majors even beyond engineering, has the support of various companies and industry leaders.

“It’s always good for engineers to know how to turn a wrench,” Ewing says. “They’re getting their hands dirty.”

“From business to engineering to communication majors, all the students on the team are learning just tons and tons of information,” Ewing says.But turning a wrench doesn’t even begin to describe the team’s experience. Ewing is honing management skills, and he and his peers are making the rounds to gain support from CEOs and journalists while constructing an electric motorcycle they expect will be on par with or exceed multimillion-dollar funded bikes.

This year marks the first season of the Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Team, which will compete in the eGrandPrix, or TTXGP. The team’s first race will be May 14 at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Buckeye Bullet

Over the past 10 years, the Buckeye Bullet has set numerous official speed records while racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The records differ due to criteria based on the Bullet’s source of electric power and whether the fastest speeds were certified as national records, by the Southern California Timing Association, or international records, by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile. Those records, so far, include:

Original Buckeye Bullet, powered by 2,000 pounds of nickel metal hydride batteries

  • 2003: national record, 271.459 mph
  • 2004: national record, 314.958 mph

Buckeye Bullet 2, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered land speed racing research vehicle

  • 2007: international record, 132.129 mph
  • 2009: interntional record, 302.877 mph
  • Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5, revamped with lithium ion batteries
  • 2010: international record, 307.666 mph

Students continue to work on improving the vehicle’s performance on batteries, aiming for a return to the Salt Flats in 2012 as the Buckeye Bullet 3 with hopes to break its own international record by topping 400 mph.

Online Extra: Read more about the team and the Buckeye Bullet.

EcoCAR: The Next Challenge

Online Extra: Follow the team at and watch a video of the students describing their experience.The EcoCAR team is competing in the final of three years of EcoCAR: The Next Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Corp., to re-engineer a GM-donated crossover utility vehicle using advanced powertrain technologies to minimize energy consumption and emissions. The students must maintain the performance quality, safety and consumer appeal of the vehicle. Ohio State placed first in the first year and fifth in the second year. The 16 U.S. collegiate teams end the competition June 5-16. Ohio State already has been selected to participate in the next three-year competition, EcoCAR 2, which requires students to explore a variety of powertrain architectures and follow a real-world engineering regimen modeled after GM’s Global Vehicle Development Process.

Formula SAE

Formula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers) to conceive, design, fabricate and race small Formula-style racing cars. The team, which includes students from different majors such as mechanical, electrical and welding engineering as well as business administration and marketing, competes against others from more than 140 colleges and universities. Ohio State team members are preparing for the next race, June 15-18 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Online Extra: Read more about the team.