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Our Vision and Goals

Our mission is to learn by doingproduce the world’s best engineers by building critical engineering skills, manufacture a competitive vehicle, and place alumni in top engineering jobs around the world. 

We achieve this by:

  1. Enhancing knowledge transfer from experienced members to new members of the team;
  2. Increasing our ties with with sponsors and groups within and without the University;
  3. Improving as a highly competitive participant in Formula SAE competitions.



Founded in 2006 as NU Motorsports, Northwestern Formula Racing is Northwestern University's team dedicated to the Formula SAE competition.

Today, our 80 undergraduate student members conceive, design, fabricate, and compete with Formula-style racing cars. We took our first race car to the Formula SAE Michigan competition in 2008 and placed second among all first-year teams.

Northwestern Formula Racing has continued to compete in FSAE Michigan and has since also competed at FSAE Lincoln. Our team has experimented with new and improved vehicle configurations over time:

  • In 2011, we defined sub-teams for major components and focused our car, NFR11, on simplicity and efficiency;
  • In 2012, we built our first car on a one-year cycle, and NFR12 was constructed with full carbon fiber bodywork and improved driving dynamics;
  • In 2013, we redesigned every major component, so NFR13 featured a reclined the driving position, manufactured custom hubs and lightweight wheel centers and a structural carbon fiber floor;
  • In 2014, we reintroduced aluminum uprights and custom aluminum hubs, and NFR14 was the lightest and fastest vehicle ever constructed in our team's history;
  • In 2015, we manufactured a stiffer and lighter chassis, upgraded to a more powerful Honda CBR500R engine and redesigned electronics to use fully electric shifting in NFR15;
  • In 2016, we included an aerodynamics package on NFR16, and dropped the wheels for a more aggresive suspension build cycle; we also began to compete at FSAE Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska so more team members could join in the competition;
  • In 2017, we are focusing on improving the efficiency of all vehicle components and systems to ensure NFR17 achieves the car's design potential.

About the Formula SAE competitions

Formula SAE is an inter-college engineering design competition organized by the Society of Automative Engineers in the United States. Since 1978, the competitions now include hundreds of teams in eight competitions worldwide. The FSAE series of competitions are regarded worldwide as among the most rigorous collegiate design competitions.

Student teams design, manufacture and race Formula-style cars at organized competitions. The vehicle is meant to be a prototype marktable towards non-professional, weekend autocross racers; per competition rules, it must be high-performance, low-cost and easy to maintain, while suitable for manfacture at 1000 units per year.

Participating students are expected to manage all aspects of the project as a small business, which involves the technical designing, manufacturing and testing, the project management and business operations and the management of an interisciplinary and diverse team.

While teams much meet competition specifications and requirements, each team has significant freedom in the design of their vehicles. FSAE competition restrictions are intended to ensure safety and not limit the creativity of engineering designers.

At competition, students engage with a panel of judges from industry and respond to challenges against their design decisions with supporting analysis. In addition, student drivers compete against the clock in multiple driving events to demonstrate the performance of the vehicles.

In 2018, Northwestern Formula Racing expects to compete at FSAE Michigan in Brooklyn, Michigan, United States, and in FSAE Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States. Let us know if you'll be there!