What is Mini BAJA ?

Baja SAE is an intercollegiate design competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Teams of students from universities all over the world design and build small off-road cars. The cars all have engines of the same specifications. As of 2009 the engine has been an unmodified Briggs & Stratton Intek 20 single-cylinder with a displacement of 300cc and power output of approximately 10 bhp (7.5 kW).

The goal in Baja SAE racing is to design, build and race off-road vehicles that can withstand the harshest elements of rough terrain. The vehicles used in Baja SAE racing are often similar in appearance to dune buggies. Before 2007, the events were called “Mini Baja.”

Mini Baja race from the 2004 Mid-West Competition

Picture of the UCAB vehicle navigating a jump at the test track La Limonera in Caracas, Venezuela in preparation for the 2007 Baja Midwest event in Rochester, NY

Each year as many as 141 Baja cars are entered in the Baja SAE events across the US and around the world where events are held including India, Brazil, South Africa and Korea. In India this event is run by SAE India. All cars must adhere to SAE’s rules, and pass SAE’s technical inspection and judging; a car may not race until all safety inspections are passed. Small engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton sponsors Baja SAE teams by providing the SAE sanctioned engine free of charge, at a replacement rate of one engine for every two years in competition.

There are multiple dynamic events, usually four per event, as well as a single four-hour endurance race. The dynamic events include hill climbs, chain pulls, maneuverability events, rock crawls, and suspension & traction events. At one of the American SAE sanction events, (formally the East event) the car had to be able to float and propel itself on water under its own power. This was changed for the 2012 competition due to safety concerns.

Static events, such as written reports, presentations and design evaluations are provided by participating teams. This is when the teams are judged on ergonomics, functionality, and producibility of their cars; ensuring that the final placement of the team does not rest solely on the vehicle’s performance but rather on a combination of static and dynamic events. Required reports detail the engineering and design process that was used in developing each system of the team’s vehicle, supported with sound engineering principles. Also, a cost report that provides all the background information necessary to verify the vehicle’s actual cost is used to rate the most economically feasible for production. These reports are submitted weeks in advance of each event, where the presentations and design evaluations are given on site in the presence of SAE design judges.

3D CAD Model designed using Solidworks and CATIA V5 by the TEAM – KIIT of KIIT University, Bhubaneswar in preparation for the 2013 Baja event at Indore, India



The Baja SAE Competition originated at the University of South Carolina in 1976, under the supervision of Dr. J. F. Stevens. Since that time, the competition has grown to become a premier engineering design series for university teams.


Baja SAE is an intercollegiate engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate engineering students. The object of the competition is to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Each team is competing to have its design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm. The students must function as a team to design, build, test, promote and compete a vehicle within the limits of the rules, also to generate financial support for their project and manage their educational priorities.

Drafted ATV image

Each team’s goal is to design and build a prototype of a rugged, single seat, off-road recreational vehicle intended for sale to the non-professional weekend off-road enthusiast. The vehicle must be safe, easily transported, easily maintained and fun to drive. It should be able to negotiate rough terrain without damage. As of 2010, the SAE Baja Series consisted of three competitions, though in the past there have been as many as seven sanctioned events. A Baja SAE competition event consists of three to four days.

What is SAE?

Society of Automotive Engineers, is a U.S.-based, globally active professional association and standards organization for engineering professionals in various industries. Principal emphasis is placed on transport industries such as automotiveaerospace, and commercial vehicles. SAE International coordinates the development of technical standards based on best practices identified and described by SAE committees and task forces. Task forces are composed of engineering professionals from relevant fields. SAE International has more than 138,000 members globally. Membership is granted to individuals, not through companies. Aside from its standardization efforts, SAE International also devotes resources to projects and programs in STEM educationprofessional certification, and collegiate design competitions.

Who are the associated countries for Baja SAE events?

BAJA SAE consist of seven different competitions under the banner of SAE.

  1. Baja SAE Auburn Hosted by Auburn University
  2. Baja SAE Maryland Hosted by University of Maryland-Baltimore country
  3. Baja SAE Oregon Hosted by SAE Oregon Section
  4. Baja SAE Brazil Hosted and sponsored by SAE BRAZIL
  5. Baja SAE korea Hosted and sponsored by Youngman University
  6. Baja SAE south Africa Sponsored by Sasol and hosted by Gerotek Test facilities
  7. Baja SAE India Sponsored by Mahindra and Mahindra and SAE India & hosted by NATRIP

Who can participate?

Undergraduate Engineering students from a recognized university or college. Each team member must have SAE membership of that concerned country  / SAE International.

What is the registration fee for each team?

The fee for the registration for each team may vary as per the event in the countries so team should visit the website and refer to the announcement for the registration fee.

How to arrange funds for this project.

This is a competition where students showcase their technical as well as marketing and management skills. So students need to put in their own or approach different industry to raise funds for their project. Students can also salvage funds from the respective college they are representing.

How to take startup for designing the car.

Assemble a team of students with basic knowledge of automobile design and manufacturing and have different skills. Refer text books for reference of different departments and confer responsibility of these departments to different team members. Start designing.

How to plan for the project?

Make a team of members 25 or less. Divide the team in sub-groups according to the various departments, and proceed accordingly.

How to prepare for the virtual BAJA?

Collect all materials and soft tools; study the rule book properly and start designing your car/buggy. Once designing is accomplished, analyze the dynamics of the vehicle using software. Make PVC model of the vehicle to ascertain your design.

What is the Virtual event?

Baja SAE India event is divided into two phases:

  1. i) Virtual event-Where students have to design the car virtually i.e. through software’s and soft tools and make a technical presentation of the same as per the rule book of Baja SAE India. Teams are required to give the presentation of their design in front of Baja SAE Judges. If their design is selected, they are supposed to proceed with manufacture of their car/Buggy.
  2. ii) Final event: All qualified teams are required to be present with their vehicle on track for Racing/Endurance race. The event consists of spot technical inspection, dynamic events (like, Brake test, Maneuverability test, hill climb test) and finally Endurance test.

How to select the transmission?

Team should select the transmission as per the design, team’s capability and fund. Manual and automatic both type of transmission can be used on Briggs and Stratton engine.

What is manual transmission?

Manual transmission is combination of gear arrangement where driver need to shift the gears manually to achieve different speed and torque as per requirement.

What is CVT?

CVT is Continuously Variable Transmission, it is a type of automatic transmission with two pulleys of infinite radii (having lower and upper limit). It is belt driven transmission i.e. there is no need of clutch pedal and to shift the gear which makes the driving easy.

What is the benefit of CVT?

  • Uniform torque transmission
  • Quick acceleration
  • Reduced weight
  • Less number of components
  • No need of shifting gears while driving
  • No clutch pedal operation during driving

How to select the suspension system?

As ATV should be capable of running and performing well in rough terrain, the suspension system should be selected in such a way that it enables easy jumping, drifting, cornering and makes riding comfortable for the driver. Double wishbone and trailing arm (Independent) suspension system are more preferable on ATVs.

What should be the Roll Cage material?

The material for the roll cage must be lightweight and have proper strength i.e. it should have a high strength to weight ratio and high weldability. This would ensure that the car is light in weight and have high strength making it a durable and high-performance car.

What tests needs to be done for Roll Cage material?

Roll cage material should be seamless metal tube and the yield strength of the material should be tested using UTM. Weld ability of the material should be tested by providing required welding current and following this current throughout the fabrication. After that the weld test needs to be performed (Refer rule B7.3.11 Baja SAE rule book)

How to do Roll Cage impact testing?

Roll cage impact testing should be done in ANSYS on four sides of the car i.e.

  • Front impact test
  • Rear impact test
  • Side impact test
  • Torsion test
  • Roll over test

All of above tests needs to be done by fixing the hard points only and by taking 4G forces on impact tests & 2G on tensional rigidity test.

How to manufacture the Roll Cage?

i) Validate the design properly

ii) Take printout of the different components in flex at 1:1 ratio of different parts like RHO, RRH, and BASE & SIM

iii) Make proper bending of the components and avoid cuttings to avoid more welding. Try to make longer parts continuous by doing bending rather than cutting and welding, this will help to reduce weight and enhance strength

iv) Do an initial tack or spot weld of the whole structure, this would prevent mistakes and give you a chance to recover if you do any mistake during fabrication

What precautions needs to be taken during the welding of Roll Cage?

  • Take proper safety precautions during welding
  • Select proper current supply as per the material to be welded and its weld ability
  • Select the gas pressure properly if you are doing MIG welding
  • Have a comfortable sitting posture during welding. Uncomfortable position may lead to an erroneous welding bead
  • Welding bead should be uniform and must be of proper thickness
  • After welding, chipping must be done on the weld surface, care must be taken not to grind the weld surface
  • Two welding heat waves should not intersect each other