Step into CET and you can see SAF flying past you. Strong, sculpted, definitely athletic with a sharp nose. He does not falter while running up those steps or diving into the trench. No matter what, he always manages to land on his four wheels. Covered in black and orange, the quick and agile SAF 1.0 is CET’s very own all-terrain buggy.
The name SAF is special to us. The buggy is named after the captain of the team who created it. Herakles Racing was formed under the leadership of Safwan Abdul Samed KO, now an alumnus of the college. He, along with his friends, was so stubborn that CET needed a Baja racing team and that is how they started Herakles Racing. What started as a group of final year students expanded to a team of over 40 members.
Herakles first took shape like a dream of a few students and as we proved our worth, the support from the authorities increased as well. We decided to set off by competing in the 2018 Edition of FMAE BAJA. It is not easy to build an ATV from scratch, but with sheer perseverance and an optimistic attitude, we deemed it possible. We had no funds to start with, so we conducted several workshops and also approached several companies for sponsorship. Despite all difficulties, we managed to gather a whopping 8 lakhs and started fabrication.
Fabrication started in March with the arrival of the raw materials. The team got together every day after class to work on the vehicle. We learned all the necessary skills needed to build one, be it cutting, grinding or welding. As our work progressed, the members became experts in their respective domain. What once seemed herculean, started to look conquerable as the vehicle started taking shape. The chassis was built within two weeks and soon, work on the suspension system began. Of course, it wasn’t cake walk. One after the other, problems kept surfacing and they were solved in the most unimaginable ways possible. Manufacturing came with a lot of dilemmas and sacrifices had to be made to make ends meet. Lack of the required tools and machinery was another issue which seriously affected our schedule. The team struggled as welding machine after welding machine became dysfunctional and it was a relief when the 2014 alumni batch sponsored a brand new TIG welding machine. The fabrication period was not only hard on the body but also on the mind. The tensions grew as the deadlines closed in, but regardless we worked efficiently to our optimum level.
Gathering funds were the most difficult part of them all. 8 lakhs is no meagre an amount and the sponsorship wing worked day and night to make money. No money meant no raw materials and no raw materials meant no vehicle. The workshop was occupied with students running around, looking for tools, fixing things, filing, grinding and what not. While all other students went home during their semester break, the team stayed back and worked relentlessly. Finally, in July, SAF 1.0 stood completed, meek but rugged nevertheless. It is said that the satisfaction of accomplishing something cannot be rivalled with and it is so. Countless days of hard work and countless sleepless nights and the fruits of labour couldn’t be sweeter. Now that we have tasted success, we have earned the nod of approval and appreciation. As a step forward further onto our legacy, Herakles Racing will participate in the upcoming SAE mBAJA and SAE eBAJA for the everlasting sense of completion and glory. What was once a dream has now become reality.
Sreenandini Prasad J
Suspension and Steering Herakles Racing