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Northeastern University

Honors Junior/Senior Projects Honors Program

May 18, 2006

Mini Baja vehicle design optimization

Jonathan T. Hastie

Recommended Citation
Hastie, Jonathan T., "Mini Baja vehicle design optimization" (2006). Honors Junior/Senior Projects. Paper 31.

This work is available open access, hosted by Northeastern University.

Mini Baja Vehicle Design Optimization
MIE U970-U971

Technical Design Report

Mini Baja Vehicle Design Optimization

Honors Thesis: Final Report
Student: Jonathan Hastie

Design Advisor: Prof. Hashemi

Fall 2004 – Fall 2005

December 12, 2005

Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

College of Engineering, Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115
Mini Baja Vehicle Design Optimization
Jonathan Hastie

Design Advisor
Prof. Hashemi


The MiniBaja Vehicle is an off-road race vehicle powered by a small gasoline engine.
As is such the combination frame and roll cage must be equally strong and light. In an
effort to fulfill the rules set down by the governing body and ensure proper integration,
strength, and weight minimization; it is imperative to properly analyze the material
properties and geometry as well as the overall design geometry. Using a combination of
Microsoft Excel, Solidworks, and Algor; the design of the 2004-2005 MiniBaja vehicle
was optimized for weight and strength. Microsoft Excel was utilized to optimize the
material usage as well as to calculate the proper loading forces seen on the vehicle. The
combination of Solidworks and Algor allowed the design and analysis of the frame to be
an iterative and intelligent process. While most additions to the design of the frame were
made, some were unable to be implemented due to pre- existing design constraints.
However the results of the analysis will be used to aid future frame designs in an effort to
have the best balance between weight and strength while maintaining adherence to the
governing guidelines.
Mini Baja Vehicle Design Optimization
Honors Thesis: Final Report
Fall 2004 – Fall 2005

MiniBaja is a collegiate competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers
(SAE). The objective is for a team of students to design, fabricate, and race an off-road
vehicle powered by a ten horsepower Briggs and Stratton gasoline engine. The vehicle is
required to have a combination frame and roll cage consisting of steel members. As
weight is critical in a vehicle powered by a small engine, a balance must be found
between the strength and weight of the design. To best optimize this balance the use of
solid modeling and finite element analysis (FEA) software is extremely useful in addition
to conventional analysis. The following paper outlines the design and analysis of the
2004-2005 Northeastern MiniBaja Vehicle’s frame design. It will cover the design
constraints required by SAE, material selection, initial design, and structural analysis and
design modifications. It will finally cover the results of the actual real world usage of the
frame design

Design Constraints
The design of the MiniBaja frame is defined by the design safety rules set out by the
SAE. These rules are updated yearly to address new safety concerns. The frame design
discussed in this paper is compliant to the 2005 MiniBaja Rules. The applicable pages to
the topic of frame design are included in Appendix A. These rules define the frame
design in two ways. First, the rules set specific requirements on the building material’s
material type and geometry. They also define the specific requirements of the frame
geometry. The requirements were referenced when making decisions regarding the
material selection, design geometry and any additional modifications to the design. A
thorough review of the design and rules were made at the end of the design stage before
fabrication. This review included not only the letter of the guideline but also a discussion
of the intent. In any cases in which the clarity or meaning of a rule was in doubt, the
SAE rules committee was contacted to ensure compliance.

It is important that the reader understand that these constraints were in place during the
design of the vehicle frame, as well as the interaction between the frame design and other
factors, such as drivetrain, suspension, and driver safety and restraint.
Material Selection
The materials used in the cage must meet certain requirements of geometry as set by
SAE, and other limitations. As the frame is used in a racing vehicle, weight is a crucial
factor and must be considered. The proper balance of fulfilling the design requirements
and minimizing the weight is crucial to a successful design.

Material Requirements

The rules define the cage to be made with materials equivalent to the following

Steel members with at least equal bending stiffness and bending

strength to 1018 steel having a circular cross section having a 25.4
mm (1 inch) OD and a wall thickness of 2.10 mm (0.083 inch). [1]

A key factor of this statement is those only steel members are allowed for the frames
construction. However the alloy of the steel is definable by the competitor as long as it
meets the equivalency requirements. These values are required to be calculated about the
axis that gives the lowest value. Calculating the strength and stiffness this way ensures
that tubes with a non-circular cross-section will be equivalent even in a worst case
loading situation. The rules go on further to define bending strength and stiffness by:

Bending stiffness is proportional by the EI product and bending

strength is given by the value of SyI/c, (for 1018 steel the values
are; Sy= 370 Mpa (53.7 ksi) E=205 GPa (29,700 ksi).
E = the modulus of elasticity
I = the second moment of area for the cross section about the
axis giving the lowest value
Sy = the yield strength of material in units of force per unit area
c = the distance from the neutral axis to the extreme fiber [1]

While the rules set many factors of the material’s geometry there are other limitations.
These limitations include the method of fabrication and industry standards for the
material. The frame will be built using a bent tube construction and TIG welded joints. .
TIG welding becomes difficult at wall thicknesses less than 0.035 inches. The tubing
bender that will be used for the fabrication can bend a maximum of 1.5 inch diameter
tube with a 0.120 inch wall thickness. It also requires that the tube have a minimum wall
thickness of 0.055 inches.

The geometry is also limited by industry standards. It is important to utilize commonly

available tubing sizes and materials. Tubing is available in standard fractional sizes to
the 1/8th of an inch: 1, 1.125, 1.25, 1.375, and 1.5. The wall thickness is limited to the
common Birmingham Tubing Gauges. In this case these are: 0.035, 0.049, 0.058, 0.065,
and 0.083 inches.

The most commonly available materials for this type of tubing are 1018 Mild Steel and
4130 Chromoly Steel. The benefit of using 4130 Chromoly steel is that it is 17.5%
stronger than the 1018 Mild Steel. The 4130 Chromoly has the same Modulus of
Elasticity (E) and density as the mild steel, so using it does not affect the weight or
stiffness in members with the same geometry. However the increase in Yield Strength
affects the bending strength. As the bending strength is affected not only by cross
sectional moment of inertia of the material but also by the radius, the 4130 allows the
usage of a larger diameter tube with a smaller wall thickness. This in turn can allow a
reduction of weight. Additionally, the 4130 Chromoly steel is more ductile than the
1018. This means that the 4130 will deform more before its ultimate failure. A chart
showing the associated modulus of elasticity, yield strength, and elongation at break
values for the mild and Chromoly steel is shown in the following Figure 1.

Modulus of Yield Strength

Material Elongation At Break
Elasticity (ksi) (ksi)
AISI 1018 Steel 29,700 53.7 15%
AISI 4130 Steel 29,700 63.1 25.50%

Figure 1: Material Properties [2]

While the 4130 Chromoly is not corrosion resistant, neither is the 1018 Mild steel. AS
both materials will have to be painted or otherwise coated for use, this will not be a factor
in the material comparison.

Analysis and Selection

Using the SAE guidelines and practical limitations outlined above an analysis of the
weight, bending stiffness, and bending strength versus wall thickness for each tubing
diameter was done using Microsoft excel. Graphs of each analysis’s results are shown
below. There are three graphs, showing separate curves for each tubing diameter. They
also include the minimum requirements of bending strength, bending stiffness, and
minimum wall thickness to maintain bendability.

Figure 2 is a comparison of the weight per linear foot versus the wall thickness for each
tubing diameter. This graph is important when comparing materials with similar
strength characteristics, as to make the choice that will result in a lighter overall design.
The graph has a line showing the minimum wall thickness as dictated by the bendability
of the material for reference
Weight vs Wall Thickness


Minimum Wall Thickness


Weight (lbs/ft)





0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.07 0.08 0.09
Wall Thickness (in)

1" tube 1.125" Tube 1.25" tube 1.375" Tube 1.5" tube

Figure 2: Weight vs Wall Thickness

Bending Stiffness vs. Wall Thickness


Minimum Wall Thickness

Bending Stiffness (lb*in^2)




Minimum Bending Stiffness

0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.07 0.08 0.09
Wall Thickness (in)

1" 1.125" 1.25" 1.375" 1.5"

Figure 3: Bending Stiffness vs Wall Thickness

Figure 3 is a comparison of the bending stiffness versus wall thickness for each tubing
diameter. It also includes a line showing the minimum wall thickness as well as a line
show the minimum bending stiffness; designated in the rules listed above as equivalence
to a piece of 1018 steel 1 inch diameter with 0.083 inch thick walls. As can be seen the
tubes closest to the minimum bending stiffness while still fulfilling the design
requirements are: 1in x 0.083 in, 1.125 in x 0.058 in, 1.25 in x 0.049 in, and 1.375 in x
0.035 in geometry’s. (diameter x wall thickness) Of these only the 1 inch and 1.125 inch
geometry’s fulfill the wall thickness requirement to maintain bendability.

Bending Strength vs. Wall Thickness

Minimum Wall Thickness


Bending Strength (lb*in)





Minimum Bending Strength


0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.07 0.08 0.09
Wall Thickness (in)

1" 4130 1.125" 4130 1.25 4130 1.375" 4130 1.5" 4130
1" 1018 1.125" 1018 1.25" 1018 1.375" 1018 1.5" 1018

Figure 4: Bending Strength vs Wall Thickness

Figure 4 is a comparison of bending strength versus wall thickness. There is a separate

curve for each tube diameter as well as separate curves for 4130 Chromoly and 1018 mild
steel. The 1018 tubes that closest match the minimum bending strength while fulfilling
the requirement are: 1 in. x 0.083 in., 1.125 in. x 0.065 in., and 1.25 in. x 0.049 in.
geometry’s. The 4130 tubes the do so are: 1 in. x 0.083 in., 1.125 in. x 0.058 in., 1.25 in.
x 0.049 in., and 1.375 in. x 0.35 in. geometry’s.

After reviewing each of these analyses it was evident that the best choice would be use
4130 Chromoly tubing with a 1.125 inch diameter and a 0.058 inch wall thickness. As
the Northeastern Mini-Baja team has a supplier with extremely good pricing on 4130
tubing, the added cost of using 4130 over 1018 was very small. The lightest tubing size
usable in 1018 Mild steel material was 1.125 in. x 0.065 in. tubing. Using the chosen
tube shows a 10% weight reduction over the 1.125 in. x 0.065 in. 1018 tubing and a 19%
weight reduction over the suggested 1 in x 0.083 in. 1018 tubing. With the final design
having a calculated total mass of 73.5 lbs, the following chart (Figure 5) shows the
associated increases due to the other materials.

Overall Weight Weight Gain Percent

(lbs) (lbs) Increase
1.125 in. x 0.058 in. 4130 73.54 0.00 0.00%
1.125 in. x 0.065 in. 1018 81.88 8.34 11.33%
1 in. x 0.083 in. 1018 90.45 16.90 22.99%

Figure 5: Weight Increase Comparison

This tube is what will be used for the majority of the frame design. However the
equivalency of 1 inch and 1.25 inch square tubing with a 0.065 inch wall thickness were
verified for member that required to be used to mount other components of the overall
vehicle design. Figure 6 shows the equivalency calculations for the three types of tubing
used in the roll cage.

Bending Bending
Diameter Wall
Material Stiffness Strength
(in) Thickness
(lb*in^2) (lb*in)
Round 1018 1 0.083 752568.27 2721.41
4130 1.125 0.058 824174.07 3112.93
Square 4130 1.25 0.065 2148020.05 7301.82
4130 1 0.065 1057078.42 4491.69

Figure 6: Equivalency Calculations

Having the building materials decided upon, the next step of the design process is to
begin the solid modeling of the design.

Frame Design
To begin the initial design of the frame, there first must be set some design guidelines.
These include not only design features and manufacturing methods, but also the tools to
be used in the design. From that point, the areas of the design that may show weakness
or high loading should be analyzed for stress concentrations should be identified for

Design Guidelines

Before beginning the design of the frame it was important to make several global design
decisions. These include such details as intended steering and suspension design and also
intended fabrication methods. While these decisions are not important to the analysis of
the frame, they are important to understanding the design. The rules regarding the frame
geometry and driver safety must be considered as well.
The design of the cars suspension will be unequal length A-arms in the front and a swing-
arm in the rear. The requirements for suspension and shock mounts must be kept in mind
throughout the design as well as clearance for suspension travel. As the frame and
suspension designs are extremely intertwined, this becomes an iterative process.
Through experience Northeastern University’s design team has found the simplicity and
strength of a handlebar and bell crank type method of steering to be advantageous over
the conventional steering wheel and rack and pinion. As the handlebars require the
driver to have their hands farther apart than with a steering wheel it is important to
consider the drivers size and arm position. This becomes a factor when verifying the
driver stays within the roll envelope, or the area encased by the roll cage. This is a key
factor in the rules regarding driver safety. Some decisions were made based upon past
experience while others were based directly off the intended driver’s biometric

The intended fabrication is important due to the limitations of the abilities and skills of
the build team as well as design directives. The objective is to minimize the number of
welded joints on the frame in favor of bent members. Bending is less time consuming
and when properly done show a much lower stress concentration. As the design
progressed the manufacturability was constantly reviewed with the build team. This
ensured that there were no impossible features in the design, and that the team felt
confident with its construction.

As with the material type, the overall frame geometry is guided by strict rules. These
rules were constantly referenced throughout the design of the frame to ensure
compliance. As mentioned above the rules change yearly, for this reason they are
attached in Appendix A.

The interactions of the frame and the strict safety rules required that the frame be
designed with a solid modeling software package. The design was done utilizing the
Solidworks package. Solidworks was chosen over other packages because of its simple
interface for creating three dimensional sketches, checking interferences, and simulating
motion. The three dimensional sketching ability was extremely important, due to the
number and complexity of bent members in the intended design. Solidworks interference
check and motion simulation are as simple as point and click. Where many packages
require the user to redefine the position, Solidworks allows the user to drag the part or
assembly through its intended motion. The function also has an interference tool built in
that allows the user to choose between multiple notification methods.

Initial Design

The initial design is shown in the Figure 6. Some notable features are the fact that the
design consists of 4 main members: the roll hoop, the horizontal hoop, and the two
perimeter hoops. The simplification of multiple members
Perimeter hoops

Roll hoop

Horizontal hoop

Figure: 7 Initial Design

As mentioned above the design was made using the Solidworks solid modeling package.
The design was done over an approximate 180 hours of design time. This time was taken
to make the model fully parametric. This means the features of the model are based upon
those preceding it, and will change according to any modifications to the parent features.
The usage of parametric design was extremely important with this design. As so many
factors interact in the design of the frame, the parametric properties allowed the change
of a single part to automatically change the design of all parts interacting with it. This is
especially important when ensuring the roll cage envelope considerations as well as the
suspension and drive train mounting.

In this design there are a few important loading situations that should be analyzed.
These include frontal impact, side impact, rollover impact, and suspension forces. These
analyses are shown in the next section.

The next stage in the design process is to analyze the frame and add features accordingly.
There were a few features of the design that the design team felt might need some
additional strengthening. For these reasons it was deemed that there should be an
analysis of front impact, side impact, rollover impact, and the loading on the frame from
the front shocks. However before these analyses are performed an examination of the
loading forces exerted on the vehicle must be completed.

The finite element analysis software program used for this project was Algor. Its
extremely user friendly interface and corporate grant program to SAE competitions are
the major contributing factors to this decision.

Loading Analysis

To properly approximate the loading that the vehicle will see an analysis of the impact
loading seen in the various types of accident was required. To properly model the
impact force the deceleration of the vehicle after impact needs to be found. To
approximate the worse case scenario that the vehicle will see, research into the forces the
human body can endure was completed. The research found that the human body will
pass out at loads much higher than 9 times the force of gravity or 9 G’s [3]. A value of
10 G’s was set as the goal point for an extreme worst case collision.

It was assumed that this worst case collision would be seen when the vehicle runs into a
stationary object. To validate this load an excel analysis using the max speed of the
vehicle and the target impact force was done to find the resulting crash pulse, or
deceleration time. An excerpt of this analysis is shown in Figure 8.

Crash pulse (s) Load (lbf) G force

0.18 7597.56494 10.13008746
0.181 7555.589443 10.07412013
0.182 7514.075216 10.01876782
0.183 7473.014695 9.964020456
0.184 7432.400485 9.909868171
0.185 7392.225347 9.856301316

Figure 8: Crash Pulse Analysis

As the chart shows the crash pulse duration is 0.182 - 0.183 seconds. This is on par with
impact testing seen in the automotive industry safety testing, 0.15- 0.20 seconds [4].

As a side impact is most likely to occur with the vehicle being hit by another MiniBaja
vehicle it was assumed that neither vehicle would be a fixed object. Referring to
automotive industry safety test, which also makes the equivalent assumption, the impact
force was assumed to be half that of head on collision with a fixed object or a
deceleration of 5 G’s. Due to the damping effects of the shock absorbers in the
suspension, the forces seen on the shock mounts were also assumes to be 5 G’s. This
value is an extreme overestimation, but will allow the ability to account for a blown
shock absorber.

As the impact on the roll cage in a roll over is most often a secondary impact or a
glancing blow, it was assumed that the roll cage would see a deceleration of
approximately 2.5 G’s.

Front Impact

The first analysis to be completed was that of a front collision with a stationary object. In
this case a deceleration of 10 G’s was the assumed loading. This is equivalent to a
7500 lbf load on the vehicle. Figure 9 show the point of application of this loading with a
red arrow.

Figure 9: Front Impact - Loading Point of Application

Having run the analysis with the 7500 lbf impact loading, the floor of the vehicle as was
shown to lack bracing to the first cross member. Figures 10 and 11 show the results of
the analysis. Figure 10 is an overall view of the frame and the stress it sees. From
examining this overall view an area of concern and redesign was identified. This area is
the front section of the floor. A close up of this area of concern is shown in Figure 11.

In the image the scale is shown on the upper right. In all images of the finite element
analysis completed in this project the scale has any sections seeing failure (stresses above
63.1 ksi ) red in color.
Figure 10: Front Impact – Overall Stress View

Figure 10: Front Impact – Detailed Stress View

After having reviewed the stress concentration it was decided that some sort of
triangulation of the floor through additional member was in order. The two members
added to the design are shown in Figure 12.

Additional Floor Bracing

Figure 12: Additional Floor Bracing.

After having added these members, a second analysis using identical loading constraints
was completed. A close up of the high stress area seen in the initial analysis is shown in
Figure 13. It can be seen that the large failure area has been reduced to a few small
localized areas of yielding.

Figure 13: Final Stress Loading – Frontal Impact

Side Impact

The next step in the analysis was to analyze a side impact with a 5 G load. This is
equivalent to a loading force of 3750 lbf. The point of application of this force is shown
in Figure 14. The overall view of the resulting stress is shown in Figure 15, and a
detailed view of that stress is shown in Figure 16.

Figure 14: Side Impact - Loading Point of Application

Figure 15: Side Impact – Overall Stress View

Figure 16: Side Impact – Detailed Stress View

After looking at the detailed view of the stress seen by frame due to the impact it is
evident that some support to the center of the side impact member is needed. It would be
best if the support ties into the nodes along the bottom of the frame at the front and rear.
A side view of the design decided upon is shown in Figure 17, as it most clearly
represents the addition.

Additional Bracing

Figure 17: Additional Side Bracing

After adding the bracing to the side members an analysis using identical parameters was
run. The resulting stress in the affected area is shown in Figure 18. As can be seen in the
picture, the stresses were significantly decreased with the addition of the supports to the
side member.
Figure 18: Final Stress Loading – Side Impact

Shock Mount Loading

The next step in the analysis was to analyze the stresses on the shock mounts caused by a
5 G load on the shock mounts. This is equivalent to a loading force of 3750 lbf. The
Loading was applied to the 2 shock mounts in the horizontal shock hoop in the front of
the vehicle. A side view of the loading application points are shown in Figure 19.

Figure 19: Shock Mount - Loading Point of Application

The resulting stresses from this loading are seen in Figures 20 and 21. Figure 20 is an
overall view while Figure 21 is a close up view of the affected area.
Figure 20: Shock Mount Loading – Overall Stress View

Figure 21: Shock Mount Loading – Detailed Stress View

After reviewing the results of the finite element analysis is evident that some additional
bracing is required to the shock mounting hoop. The recommended method used was to
add supports between the side members and the perimeter hoops that also contacted the
shock hoop. A side view of this addition is shown in Figure 22.

Additional Bracing

Figure 22: Additional Shock Bracing

After adding this additional bracing, the analysis was re-run using identical parameters.
The analysis resulted in the following stresses as shown in Figure 23. The additional
brace ties the shock mount into a nearby load and also will help brace the perimeter hoop.

Figure 23: Shock Mount Loading – Final stress

Rollover Impact

The Final step in the analysis was to analyze the stress on the roll cage caused by a
rollover with a 2.5 G load on the cage. This is equivalent to a loading force of 1875 lbf.
The Loading was applied to the upper forward corner of the perimeter hoop with a
combination vector sideways and downward. Figure 24 shows the point of application
for the loading on the roll cage. The load was chosen to be on a single corner as this
would be a worst case scenario rollover.

Figure 24: Rollover Impact – Loading Point of Application

An overall view of the resulting stress is shown in Figure 25.

Figure 25: Roll Over Impact – Overall Stress View

As can be seen in Figure 25 even with a 2.5G loading, there is extreme stress on the roll
hoop design. The Roll hoop sees significant loading at the point of contact with the
shock hoop supports as well as the point of the upper forward bends in the perimeter
hoops. The ideal method of support would be the addition of a support from the side
member to this bend. The problem is that this member would not work with the
suspension or steering designs decided upon, and would also impede the driver’s ability
to get out of the vehicle in and emergency. Figure 26 shows a detailed view of the upper
forward bend of the perimeter hoop to show if the addition of additional bracing in the
roof would be useful.

Figure 26: Rollover Impact – Detailed Stress View

In an effort to stiffen the roll hoop the addition of a cross member in the roof to
triangulate between the two perimeter roll hoops was added. This addition is shown in
Figure 27.
Top Bracing

Figure 27: Additional Roof Support

After the addition of the support in the roof, another analysis was run using identical
parameters as before. The addition of this top bracing member, showed no appreciable
changed in the stress of the frame. A view of the analysis with the addition of the top
bracing is shown in Figure 28.

Figure 28: Final Stress- Rollover Impact

While the addition of the top bracing did lessen the stress on some sections of the
perimeter roll hoop, it was not able to reduce the stress in the areas with high
concentrations, such as the bends and the point at which the perimeter hoop meets the
shock bracing. While this the addition of another support member was not possible in the
design of this frame do to pre existing conditions such as the suspension design, steering
method and driver safety it is the authors recommendation that future frame design have
the following support member as shown in Figure 29. The suggested member is drawn in

Figure 29: Future Design Recommendation

The difficulty with the addition of this member is that it will either require an entire
redesign of the suspension and steering design or a complete redesign of the frame. The
weakness of the cage in this spot was however a feature that was kept in mind during the
usage of the vehicle. This weakness proved evident in the real world usage.

Real World Testing Results

In the course of the usage of this frame design during the 2004-2005 MiniBaja season,
the structural properties of the frame came into account on multiple occasions. While
there was absolutely no issue with the frontal impact, side impact, or shock mount
loading; there was a problem with the rollover impact loading. In the course of the
Suspension Event, the car was subjected to a high speed rollover. The vehicle landed a
jump at an awkward angle, caught a corner and flipped at high speed (approximately
35mph). The cage bent in the fashion predicated in the Rollover Impact Analysis. This
can be seen below in Figure 30. As can be seen by the displacements, the majority of the
stresses were at the bend and the point at which the perimeter hoop meets the shock
mount bracing. These failure points are de3monstrated with arrows in Figure 30. While
this can be considered a failure in the terms of structural integrity, it does validate the
analysis performed in the course of this thesis. The addition of the member discussed in
the previous section and shown in Figure 29 would have most likely prevented the
Point of Failure

Figure 30: Actual Roll Cage Failure

The following illustration shows the areas of failure in the equivalent finite element

Point of Failure

Figure 31: Roll Cage Failure in FEA


The usage of finite element analysis was invaluable to the design and analysis of the
frame for Northeastern’s MiniBaja Car. The analysis allowed the addition of three
important and key structural components to help the vehicle with stand front and side
impacts as well as the forces due to the loading of the shock mounts. While a viable
solution to the stresses seen in a rollover type impact could not be found due to the set
design constraints, the finite element analysis gave a very accurate prediction of where
failure would occur in this situation. This prediction was validated in an actual rollover
occurrence. Even though a fix was unable to be implemented in this frame design, the
findings from the finite element analysis and the actual failure will allow future designers
to integrate a solution to this problem into their design from the beginning.


I would like to thank Professor Hashemi for his constant support over the course of this
thesis. Also, for their help with the usage Algor, I would like to thank Chris Mickiewicz
and the Algor Users Group. Their experience and advice was invaluable to my ability to
make an accurate analysis.
1 “Consolidated Rules For Mini Baja East, Midwest and Mini Baja 100”, Society
of Automotive Engineers, September 2004.


3 Elert, Glenn. “Acceleration That Would Kill a Human,”

4 Linder, Astrid; Avery, Matthew. “Change of Velocity and Pulse Characteristics

in Rear Impacts: Real World and Vehicle Tests Data,” The Motor Insurance
Repair and Research Centre. Thatcham, United Kingdom.
Appendix A

The following design requirements apply to all Mini Baja competitions. A few of the regulations
may not pertain to all events. For example, the rules concerning deep water only apply to Mini
Baja East. These design and technical rules will be strictly enforced. It is the responsibility of
each team to meet all technical requirements. Failure to do so may mean disqualification from
the competition. If you have any doubts about any technical requirement, present your
questions, by email, to the National Technical Inspectors who will make the ir best efforts to
respond within 2 weeks.

30.1 Rules Requirements and Restrictions

30.1.1 Technical Inspection

All Mini Baja vehicles must pass a technical inspection before they are permitted to
compete. Once a vehicle has passed technical inspection it must remain in “as approved”
condition throughout the competition. Repairs must be made with identical parts.

30.1.2 Required Modifications

All installations and construction are subject to the approval of the technical inspectors,
who may require modifications at their discretion. All competitors should be prepared to
note these modifications during technical inspections.

30.1.3 Unsafe Vehicles

Any vehicle exhibiting handling or other vehicle dynamics that are deemed unsafe or
unstable by the technical inspectors will not be permitted to participate in the dynamic


31.1 Objective
The purpose of the driver’s roll cage is to prevent the driver who is wearing a restraint system
from being crushed or seriously injured in the event of an impact or a rollover. The cage must be
large enough for a the driver’s helmet to be 12.7 cm (5 inches) away from a straight-edge applied
to any two places on the structure of the car, excluding the driver’s seat and the rear driver safety

31.2 Roll Cage Requirements

31.2.1 Elements of the Roll Cage

The elements of the roll cage are :

Rear Roll Hoop (RRH) Rule 31.2.2

Lateral Diagonal Bracing (LDB) Rule 31.2.3

Roll Hoop Overhead members (RHO) Rule 31.2.4

Lower Frame Side members (LFS) Rule 31.2.5

Side Impact members (SIM) Rule 31.2.6

Front Bracing members (FBM) Rule 31.2.7

Fore-Aft Bracing members (FAB) Rule 31.2.8

Lateral Crossmember (LC) Rules 31.2.4 - 31.2.6

All the above shall be made of material meeting specifications per 31.4.

Reference points: See drawings in this section.

NOTE: Dimensional requirements: All dimensions relative to tubing are center-to-center

unless otherwise noted.

31.2.2 Rear Roll Hoop (RRH)

Rear Roll Hoop shall be attached to the Lower Frame Side members (LFS) at a point
behind the driver’s seat. These junctions define Point AR on the right side and point AL on
the left side. The driver’s seat may not intrude into the plane(s) of the RRH.

The upper junctions in straight-tube construction shall define points BR and BL. (See
R1A) If bent-tube construction is used, points BR and BL will occur at the upper end of
each bend. (See R1B) The radii of the upper bends at the tube center may not be greater
than 5”. Points B shall be located above the driver’s seat by a minimum of 41 inches and
behind the drivers head as defined in section 31.3.

The RRH shall extend upward vertically +/-20 degrees from points A to points B. (See
R1C) If the RRH is defined by more than one plane or if the RRH verticals are not
straight in a rear view, sound engineering practice must apply. (See R1D)

31.2.3 Rear Roll Hoop Lateral Diagonal Bracing (LDB)

Lateral Bracing for the Rear Roll Hoop shall begin at a point along the vertical portion of
the RRH within 5” vertically of point BL or BR and extend diagonally to a point no farther
that 2” above point AR or AL respectively. (See R1E) The angle between the vertical of
the RRH and the LDB must be no less than 20 degrees. Lateral bracing may consist of
two or more members if needed. (See R1F)


Re: Sections 31.2.4 thru

It is understood that each definition requires a right side and a left side.

31.2.4 Roll Hoop Overhead members (RHO)

Roll Hoop Overhead members shall join the RRH within 2 inches vertically or laterally
of points B and extend generally horizontally to points C. (See R2A) The RHO shall be
located above the drivers seat by a minimum of 41 inches and points C shall be located
forward of the drivers seat by a minimum of 12 inches as defined in section 31.3. (See
R2B) Points CR and CL shall be joined by a lateral crossmember (LC). (See R2A)

31.2.5 Lower Frame Side members (LFS)

Lower frame side members shall join the RRH at points A and shall extend forward and
generally horizontal to points AF forward of the drivers heal. A lateral crossmember
(LC) shall join point AF R to point AF L. (See R3)

31.2.6 Side Impact members (SIM)

Side impact members shall join the RRH at points S and extend generally horizontal to
points SF forward of the drivers toes. (See R4A) The SIM shall be between 6” and 12”
(as measured vertically) above the lowest part of the seat in contact with the driver.
From any direction, there shall be at least 2” clearance between the SIM and the driver’s
hips. Points SFR and SFL shall be joined by a lateral crossmember (LC) .

NOTE: The driver’s feet must be behind the plane created by points AFR,L and SFR,L.

31.2.7 Front Bracing members (FBM)

Front bracing members shall join the RHO, the SIM and the LFS. (See R5A) The upper
Front Bracing members (FBMUP ) shall extend generally downward and forward and join
points C on the RHO to the SIM at or behind points SF. The angle between the FBMUP
and the vertical shall be less than 45 degrees.

At the point where the FBMUP joins the SIM, the lower Front Bracing members
(FBMLWR) shall extend generally downward and join the SIM to the LFS at or behind
points AF. The angle between the FBMLWR and the vertical shall be less than 45 degrees.

31.2.8 Fore-Aft Bracing members (FAB)

Fore-Aft bracing members shall be provided for the cage using either of the following
methods: Front Fore -Aft Bracing

Front FABUP shall extend generally downward from points D and join the
FBMUP to the SIM at points E. The angle between the Front FABUP and the
FBMUP shall be at least 30 degrees. (See R6A)

Front FABLWR must join points E and the LFS. (See R6A) The angle between
the Front FABUP and the Front FABLWR must not be greater than 15 degrees in
a side view. If two FABLWR members are needed, the angle between the two
members must not be greater than 90 degrees. (See R6B) Rear Bracing

From a side view, construction must be entirely of contiguous triangles, with the
maximum length of any member not to exceed 32” between attachment points. A
bent tube not exceeding 28” between attachment points may be considered as one
side of a triangle.

Rear bracing must as a minimum include FAB Upper, FAB Mid (a generally
horizontal brace per side connecting FAB Up or FAB lwr to the RRH), and FAB
Lower (See: Rrh 1–4 ok, Rrh 1–2 not ok). Additionally, at least one horizontal
crossmember (HMX) must connect the left and right sides of the rear bracing,
attached within 15” of the center of the outer perimeter (as viewed from the side)

of the rear bracing. (See HXM Lateral OK.)

Rear bracing must attach within 2” of Br and Bl, extend rearward beyond all
engine componentry, and connect at or belo w Sr and Sl to the RRH. The lower
attachments (at or below Sr and Sl) must be connected directly to the RRH (may
not be inboard). (See below)
NOTE: Bent tube construction must not show any signs of stress tear or
buckling. Please be aware that if your roll cage shows any problems in the bend
area your team will need to fix it before you are allowed to compete.

Rrh 1 OK Rrh 1 NOT OK

Rrh 2 OK Rrh 2 NOT OK



31.2.9 Final Judgment

The roll cage structure defined in this section is intended to protect the driver. The
design rules are considered a minimum but the final judgment as to safety will rest with
the National Technical Inspectors.

COMMENT: Note that in all cases, especially bent-tube construction, event judges may
require additional bracing if they feel the roll cage does not offer adequate crush-

31.3 Driver Head Clearance

For driver head clearance, the roll cage must extend a minimum of 104.14 cm (41 inches) above
the seating surface to the bottom of the upper roll cage tubes measured vertically using the
Template in Figure 1. The template radiused bottom should be placed in the joint of the seat
base and the seat backrest and positioned vertically. The template “tee” top describes the
projection of the required clearance height forward and rearward. While the clearance height
forward is fixed by the template, the clearance height rearward must be extended in each design
over the helmet top of a seated and secured driver. Taller drivers may be accommodated by
lengthening the template vertical member and raising the entire clearance height envelope above
the 104.14 cm (41 inches) minimum.
31.3.1 Head Clearance - Minimum

In all cases, a minimum of 12.7 mm (5 inches) vertical clearance must be provided from
the helmet top of the team’s tallest driver to the bottom of the roll cage top tubes or

31.4 Roll Cage & Bracing Materials

The material used for all of the required roll cage members must, as a minimum, be either:

(a) Circular steel tubing with an outside diameter of 25.4 mm (1 inch) and a wall thickness of
2.10mm (0.083 inch) and a carbon content of at least 0.18.


(b) Steel members with at least equal bending stiffness and bending strength to 1018 steel having
a circular cross section having a 25.4 mm (1 inch) OD and a wall thickness of 2.10 mm (0.083
inch). The bending stiffness and bending strength have to be calculated about an axis that gives
the lowest value. Bending stiffness is proportional by the EI product and bending strength is
given by the value of S yI/c, (for 1018 steel the values are; Sy = 370 Mpa (53.7 ksi) E=205 GPa
(29,700 ksi).

E = the modulus of elasticity

I = the second moment of area for the cross section about the axis giving the lowest va lue

Sy = the yield strength of material in units of force per unit area

c = the distance from the neutral axis to the extreme fiber


31.4.1 Roll Cage Specification Sheet

All teams must submit a copy of the SAE Mini Baja® Roll Cage Specification Sheet (See
Section 8 “Forms & Deadlines”) to the National Technical Inspectors during technical
inspection. These forms must be completed for each competition. Complete roll cage
specifications must be supplied with the Roll Cage Specification Sheet. Teams that do
not submit a Roll Cage Specification Sheet will not be allowed to compete.

NOTE: Judges recommend that material documentation may be mailed with the roll
cage specification sheet. (see 31.4.5)

31.4.2 Roll Cage Padding

The cockpit’s frame tubes must be padded with resilient material in the area around the
driver’s head. Recommended materials are ethafoam or ensolite. In addition, a head rest
of at least 25.4 mm (1 inch) thick resilient material must be mounted behind the driver’s

31.4.3 Inspection Holes

The National Technical Inspectors will instruct the students where to drill two 4.5mm
(.18 inch) diameter holes during initial tech inspection.

31.4.4 Sharp Edges on Roll Cage - Prohibited

All sharp edges which might endanger the driver, crew, officials and safety staff must be
eliminated by radiusing, shielding and/or padding. This includes brackets, gussets, sheet
stock, fastener ends, clamps, “ty-raps” or other features accessible during servicing,
judging or competition impact or roll over.

31.4.5 Materials - Documentation

Teams are required to bring with them Safety Inspection documentation (invoices, bills,
etc.) of the materials used in the roll cage and bracing. Teams may also submit this
information as an attachment to the Roll Cage Specification Sheet.

31.5 Bolted Roll Cages
Bolted roll cages are acceptable only if the following requirements are met

(a) Flanges or tabs must be twice (2X) the thickness of the tube structures, made of the same
material type. They must be properly welded to each tubing part to be joined

(b) Flange mounts must be twice (2X) the diameter of the attached tubing, flush mated, with no
gap between the faces greater than 0.07 mm (0.003) inches

(c) Tab mounts must be dual, parallel and on each side of the tubing to which they are welded,
having a welded length of at least twice (2X) the diameter of the adjoined. Tubing held by bolt
must be reinforced such that the area through which the bolt passes cannot be compressed from
tightening or impact.

32.1 Design Objective

The cockpit must be designed to (1) protect the driver and (2) permit easy driver exit in an
32.2 Driver Exit Time
Maximum time for a driver to exit the vehicle is five (5) seconds. Teams should be prepared to
demonstrate this requirement with any driver.
32.3 Firewall
A firewall between the cockpit and the engine and fuel tank compartment is mandatory. This
firewall must be metal, at least 0.508 mm (0.020 inches) thick, and must completely separate the
engine compartment and fuel tank from the cockpit. Cutouts for the pull starter will be allowed,
only if their design meets sidewall safety standards.

32.3.1 Front or Mid-engine Cars

If the engine is not placed in the rear of car then it must meet the following standards:

(a) Gas tank must be in a sealed container that prevents fuel from leaking in the event of
gas tank failure.

(b) Splash shields must prevent fuel from being poured anywhere in the cockpit area
during fueling. (See rule 35.4 “Spill Prevention)

(c) Engine must be completely enclosed and protect the driver in the event of a engine

failure, shielding must meet guarding requirements (See rule 38.1 “Powertrain Guards”).

(d) Driver must be able to still egress from either side of the vehicle.

(e) The exhaust must not exit towards the driver and must be shielded.