Last Sunday, the Ecurie Aix team from RWTH Aachen University was competing at the Hockenheimring circuit, in a race that is part of Formula Student. This prestigious competition challenges teams of students to design and build their own racing car and compete against rival teams from other universities in a series of races. However, the teams don’t just gain points for fast times, but for their work as a whole, which includes elements such as design and financial planning. The races are held at some of the best known circuits in the world, such as Silverstone in the UK. And wherever the 80-strong team from Aachen goes, it takes with it elements of its exhibition stand so it can make sure this year’s car is properly presented. We helped out with the development of the stand from the early stages and would like to tell you a little about the background and the team in this blog entry.
The Ecurie Aix team: Racing cars made in Aachen
The Ecurie Aix team: Racing cars made in Aachen The team at RWTH Aachen University was established in 2000 under the name “Ecurie Aix”, which draws on its geographical location in more ways than one. Aachen is less than one hour by car from the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, which was also home to the 1950s Formula 1 team “Ecurie Francorchamps”. “Ecurie” simply means racing team, and combining it with “Aix” from “Aix-la Chapelle” (the French name for Aachen) is a neat way of linking the region with the golden age of motor racing. Two years after its founding, the team became one of the first German teams ever to participate in Formula Student when it entered its car “ecurie aix car 1” (eac01).
Every two years after that, the team produced a new car, with students racing on circuits in Birmingham, Detriot and Hockenheim. When it was established as an official club in 2009 its ambitions grew, and since then a new car has been developed every year. In the following year, “ecurie aix car electric 1” (eace01) became the team’s first fully electric racing car. Last year saw another impressive first, as the team chose to enter only an electric vehicle -– the eace03 – having previously entered both conventional and electric vehicles. This year’s eace04 is also based on this cutting-edge technology. And of course, the perfect backdrop for this impressive vehicle is provided by our exhibition stand, which really helps the team stand out from its competitors.
An exhibition stand that breaks with convention
It all started out as a project for the 2014 summer semester, with students at the Chair for Supporting Structures tasked with creating a suitable exhibition stand for eace04. Finally, on 13 June 2014, three short-listed designs were presented to us at our Solingen headquarters. “We received a very warm welcome,” says Tim Both, one of the racing team’s organizers. Stefan Friedrich (Sales, Systems Technology) and Marcus Büser (Sales, Turnkey Solutions) discussed the designs with the Masters students from Aachen. The main aims were to keep the stand light in weight and trim it down to the key elements.
Naturally, the final decision rested with the students. Once they had made their choice, our team headed straight for the university to investigate the technical feasibility of the design in detail. The panels of the winning design are made from a stretch fabric that is clamped in the groove of a Profile 6 with a special leather band. Line 6 has also been used to build the load-carrying frame structure. The contrast between the rear wall and the pedestal produces a striking look, with the background swathed in black fabric while the pedestal is surrounded by a white casing with additional lighting. “The focus should be entirely on the racing car,” explains Both. And that was precisely the effect achieved on 1 June, during the presentation in the university’s AachenMünchener Halle auditorium.
We wish the Ecurie Aix team all the best for all their future endeavours. After races in Silverstone and Hockenheim, the next event is scheduled for 10 to 13 August in Spielberg (Austria). The stand will also have its first outing at a major trade fair when it is unveiled at this year’s International Motor Show (IAA) from 17 to 29 September.