Western Washington University has a long history of building prototype cars in the Vehicle Research Institute—a lab space on campus dedicated to vehicle research, design, and development. Established in 1972, the VRI is dedicated to providing students with hands–on engineering experience designing and building full–size prototype vehicles, many focusing on environmental sustainability. The vehicle numbers are given to all cars that come out of the VRI, not just those from the Formula SAE team. For more info on the other cars built in the VRI, visit https://vri.wwu.edu/viking-series-cars-history/.
Western Washington University’s first FSAE car was born in the late eighties out of a Formula 440 car made in collaboration with Dan Hanley of Race Cars of the Future. It had a steel spaceframe chassis and a naturally aspirated Kawasaki GPZ600R engine. It won the Rookie of the Year award at the 1989 FSAE competition.
Notably, this car used peanut butter in the differential. This was made with two Gerotor pumps back to back so that they pumped into each other. With any conventional hydraulic fluid, they leaked too much, so the team used chunky peanut butter instead.
Viking 10 was rebuilt to become Viking 22, the first FSAE car with four-wheel steering (and the only such car from WWU). This was done in an effort to increase maneuverability. To do this, the car used two steering racks - the front rack was driven by the steering wheel, and the rear rack was driven via cables to the front rack. It weighed about 580 pounds, and finished 10th overall at the 1992 FSAE competition.
This car was the first from WWU Racing to use a spool instead of a differential. To complement this, it used 10 degrees of caster to lift the inside rear wheel in corners. WWU Racing would continue to use a spool until Viking 35. It was also the first fuel injected car from WWU Racing, and the first among many to use a CBR600 engine. It finished 25th overall in the 1994 FSAE competition, winning the Goodyear performance award and finishing first in the acceleration and skidpad events. Though it weighed around 560 lbs, it ended up being quite reliable and was used for many years for driver training.
This car was the first of WWU’s carbon fiber twin tube cars, where the chassis utilized two large carbon fiber tubes down the side of the car for torsional stiffness. This resulted in a much lighter car compared to previous years, at 485 lbs. It made extensive use of CNC machining, with the bulkheads, calipers, and A-arms all being CNC’d out of aluminum. It had inside-out disc brakes in the front and used in-house designed and manufactured shocks. The engine was a turbocharged CBR600F2. It finished 4th overall at the 1995 FSAE competition and 22nd at the 1996 FSAE competition, and won Goodyear performance awards in both years.
This car was an iteration of V26, and continued with the torsion tube chassis and CNC bulkheads and suspension parts. It was also lighter, at 448 pounds. It used a turbocharged CBR600F3 engine powered by methanol fuel. It finished 11th overall at the 1998 FSAE Michigan competition, and 4th place in the methanol class. It then went to the 1999 Formula Student UK competition, where it finished 4th overall and won the Henry Royce Gold Medal for student engineering and craftsmanship.
Viking 30 is the famous V8 car, with a custom eight-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission. The heads and pistons are from a ZX2R engine, the transmission internals are from a CBR600F1, and everything else was designed and manufactured at WWU—including the engine block, oil pan, crankshaft, connecting rods, and transmission housing. The engine and transmission are fully stressed members of the chassis, and the rear suspension bolts directly to them.
The chassis was an evolution of the V26/V28 design, now utilizing cut-and-fold techniques as well as the twin tube design. The car weighed 410 pounds, the lightest out of any WWU Racing FSAE car to date.
Unfortunately it finished 61st at the 2001 FSAE Michigan competition. It obtained 120 out of 150 points in design (tied with nine other cars for 5th place) but could not run in dynamic events due to the lack of an onboard starter motor, as well as an issue with the fuel pump grounding. The powertrain also took several years to design and manufacture, so the team returned to using a CBR600 engine for future cars.
Here's a recording of the engine:
Viking 35 returned to a naturally aspirated CBR600F2 engine (now powered by E85 ethanol), though it retained a similar torsion tube chassis to previous years. It continued to feature custom shocks, hollow CNC control arms and bulkheads, and inside-out brakes, and probably weighed about 430 pounds (our documentation says 585, but presumably that includes the weight of the driver). The team also transitioned to using a Torsen differential.
The team finished 104th overall at the 2004 FSAE Michigan competition due to a blown up engine on the practice track. The University of Idaho lent the team another engine, and it was rebuilt in a hotel room. It entered endurance, but the car died two laps in and would not restart. Two years later, it finished 43rd overall at the 2006 FSAE West competition.
This car was an iteration on Viking 35, and was the last of the twin torsion tube cars. The control arms were made of carbon tubes, making them probably our lightest set of control arms to date. The pedals were mounted on rails and were movable without the use of tools, making them easily adjustable for different drivers. It weighed 450 pounds and used a CBR600F3 engine. It finished 54th overall at the 2007 FSAE Michigan competition.
This car featured an all-new chassis design for WWU Racing: a two-thirds carbon fiber monocoque with a rear steel-tube spaceframe. It used a CBR600F4i, which all WWU Racing cars would use until Viking 58. It weighed 451 pounds, and finished 6th overall at the 2008 FSAE West competition (and third in the design presentation). In 2019, a few alumni from the team made an aero package for Viking 43 for use in SCCA autocross events, with a time-attack inspired front splitter/air dam and an unsprung rear wing. This version of the car can be seen here.
This car was an iteration on the Viking 43 platform, but was redesigned around 13” wheels instead of the 10” wheels all WWU Racing cars had used up until then. Unfortunately, the chassis partially failed at one of the control arm mounting points in the brakes test at the 2009 FSAE West competition, but this was quickly fixed and the team finished 6th overall for the second year in a row.
This car was an iteration on Viking 46, and ended up being quite similar. It finished 11th overall at the 2010 FSAE Michigan competition. Many parts were taken from this car to finish Viking 51.
This car was an iteration on Viking 48, and featured a slipper clutch and a redesigned suspension. The car otherwise used many parts from Viking 48, and finished 27th overall at the 2011 FSAE California competition.
Viking 53 was the first full monocoque car from WWU Racing since Viking 38. It used a Salisbury differential instead of the usual Torsen, and marked a brief return to 10" wheels. Unfortunately, the car was heavier than expected at around 500 pounds and finished 71st overall at the 2012 FSAE Michigan competition.
This car marked the team’s first venture into electric vehicles. It was designed as a car that would compete with a combustion powertrain in the 2013 FSAE Michigan competition, and would later be taken to the 2013 FSAE Electric competition in Lincoln, NE with an electric drivetrain. An EV drivetrain was developed that would bolt up to CBR600 engine mounts, however this was not finished in time to go to the electric competition. It was the first steel spaceframe car since Viking 24. Viking 54 was also the first FSAE car from WWU with an aero package, although it went to competition without it. Most of the wing molds made for this car are still in use today. It weighed 472 pounds without aero, and finished 17th overall at the 2013 FSAE Michigan competition. Viking 54's unused battery pack will be used to help prototype V63’s electric drivetrain.
This car was designed around Viking 54’s unfinished electric powertrain, with an Emrax 228 motor and a Sevcon motor controller, and was registered for the 2014 FSAE Electric competition. However, manufacturing was never completed and the car was never finished. The frame was eventually scrapped and the motor ended up being used by the Vehicle Design students for their custom electric utility truck, dubbed “Lyn Okse” (Norwegian for Lightning Ox).
Viking 58 featured a newly designed two-thirds monocoque, and a switch to the CBR600RR engine. It was originally slated for the 2015 FSAE Lincoln competition, but manufacturing was not completed until the fall of 2016. Since it had now been 3 years since the team had taken an FSAE car to a competition, the team started to push towards team building and setting future teams up for success. It was heavier than expected, at 519 pounds, but was able to finish 17th at the 2017 FSAE Lincoln competition due to its reliability and an extensive testing season.
Building off the success of Viking 58, Viking 59 was started with the goals of building a car in a year and competing in all events at competition. Because of this, the teams switched back to a steel spaceframe for the reduced manufacturing time, a reorganized electrical system for reliability, and otherwise used mostly similar designs to Viking 58. The sidepod molds from Viking 43 were found and used for Viking 59 and 61. Despite the switch away from a monocoque, the team ended up with a lighter car (506 pounds), and finished 10th overall at the 2018 FSAE Lincoln competition. It ended up being quite reliable, and is still used at test days for driver training.
Now that the team knew that they could build a car in a year, they set out to push the performance of the car. Because of this, improvements from Viking 59 were made across the board. Viking 61 was the first WWU Racing car to go to competition with an aero package. The clutch was also moved up next to the shifter to free up room in the pedal box and quicken downshifts.
It originally weighed 495 pounds, but this became 518 pounds after a few component failures forced redesign. The most spectacular of these failures was of a right front spindle, which resulted in a wheel flying across the practice track one week before the team left for competition. Luckily no one was hurt and the damage to Viking 61 was minimal (apart from the spindle, which was replaced with one from Viking 59). It finished 11th overall at the 2019 FSAE Lincoln competition.
Viking 62 was designed with significant weight savings in mind, with a goal of 450 pounds. To help achieve this, the team returned to 10 inch wheels for the significant weight decrease all throughout the suspension system. The sidepods were completely revamped and the team moved to dual radiators to balance out the drag forces. The rear of the chassis fully utilized the engine block as a structural component, and the chassis was much lighter in the rear as a result. A drive–by–wire electronic throttle was implemented to quicken shift times. It was originally slated for the 2020 FSAE California competition, but due to the COVID-19 virus the competition was never held and our lab access was shut down in the middle of manufacturing season.
In March of 2020 the team suddenly found itself with a ton of time but no lab access due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Since completing V62 was not possible, the team needed a new project that could last throughout the lockdown period. The team decided to design and build an electric FSAE car, with the plan of prototyping the powertrain in the spring of 2021 and taking the car to the 2022 FSAE Electric competition. V63 will have an Emrax 228 LC MV motor with a Cascadia Motion PM100DXR motor controller.