My wife, Suzanne, and I first got involved in Formula SAE, the grandfather of Formula Student, in 1986, when
it first came north from Texas to Michigan. Since then we have officiated at approximately 70 FSAE, Formula Student and Formula Hybrid competitions in the UK, USA, Italy and Australia.
Our first involvement was as licensed scrutineers and members of the Detroit Region of the Sports Car Club of America, who were asked to help organise the 1986 competition. At that time, I was the Region’s Regional Executive and Suzanne was the Region’s Chief Scrutineer- getting involved just seemed the natural thing to do.
In 1994 following our return from 2½ years in Italy, where I was the Technical Director at Lamborghini Engineering, Chrysler’s Formula 1 engine programme, I joined the FSAE Rules Committee, and was the Chairman from 2000 - 2009.
Over the years, our involvement has been primarily as scrutineers, although we have also done just about everything else except for the three static events - Design, Cost and Presentation. I have acted as course designer (FSAE Virginia, FSAE Italy and Formula Hybrid), Clerk of the Course (FSAE Virginia and Formula Hybrid), while Suzanne, among other things, can usually be seen at Driver Change of Endurance at Formula Student and Formula Hybrid, and is also responsible for the tilt and noise tests at Formula Hybrid.
We have officiated at every Formula Student event including the first one at MIRA in 1998, and continue to be involved as we both believe in the educational benefits of the competition. By being a contributing member of a team, students learn of the “soft skills” that professors cannot teach in the classroom. These are the skills that industry values so highly, and is why they recruit FSAE/FS students so intently.
Suzanne has also recruited several FSAE/FS alumni for her USA WEC and Formula 1 scrutineering crews where she is the Chief Scrutineer.
Formula Student has now built up its own cadre of experienced event captains and volunteers, but we still feel that on occasions, our experience and perspective is beneficial to the competition.
We enjoy coming back to Formula Student, seeing friends we have made over the years, and trying to pass on a “little wisdom” to a new group of students every year.
For anyone that considers volunteering, do so, because it is a rewarding experience. However, remember that Formula Student is not motor racing, it is an educational exercise. Therefore, treat each interface with the students as an opportunity to teach.