Smithers Rapra supports collegiate SAE and solar car racing teams with tire testing services

While Smithers Rapra has supported the University of Michigan's Formula SAE and solar car teams in the past, this will be the first year Smithers will provide testing support for Caltech Racing's SAE Formula Electric Team.

(Akron, OH) – Smithers Rapra, a world leader in rubber, plastics and composites testing expertise, announced today that it is supporting the University of Michigan’s Formula SAE and solar car teams and the Caltech SAE Formula Electric team by providing all three teams with controlled lab data on tire performance.

University of Michigan Solar Car Caltech Racing Electric CarMracing Formula SAE team

The Formula SAE Competition is built on the concept that a fictional manufacturing company is looking to build a small Formula-style race car based on student prototypes. Smithers Rapra has conducted tire testing on prototypes for the University of Michigan team, MRacing, since 2013. This will be the first year that Smithers Rapra will provide testing for Caltech Racing’s SAE Formula Electric team, which presents different tire challenges than traditional combustion engine-based drive trains.  

“Programs like the Formula SAE competition and the Michigan Solar Car Team are great examples of the bright future of engineering and auto design,” said James Popio, Vice President, North America, Smithers Rapra. “We are both proud and delighted to contribute to such great hands-on learning opportunities for engineering students at some of the most respected technical universities in the country.”

Depending on the type of vehicle being built, tire testing may require different focus areas. While the Formula SAE teams may be most concerned with the implications of how best to set up the car suspension system using simulation technology along with tire experimental force and moment measurements, the Solar Car team is most interested in collecting data on rolling resistance with different types of tires to get maximum efficiency out of the energy captured to drive the car. This year, they may expand testing to measure performance under various slip angles and inclines.

After converting a gas powered go-kart into a fully electric vehicle last year, the Caltech Racing team plans to build a fully electric vehicle from scratch and hopes that the support from Smithers Rapra will help them overcome some standard first-year difficulties.

“Understanding the forces put on our tires is extremely important in designing a vehicle from scratch,” said Rob Anderson, project lead at Caltech Racing. “We need the kind of insight that the experts at Smithers can offer our team as a first-year team in Formula SAE.”

The mission of Formula SAE is to promote learning across all aspects of the automotive industry, such as research, design, manufacturing and testing. Smithers Rapra strives to provide talented students with opportunities to get hands-on experience working with experienced industry professionals to test theories and components from the classroom with the goal of improving their vehicle’s performance. 

Expertise within Smithers spans several key industry sectors including automotive, tire, rubber and polymer products, aerospace, medical device and pharmaceuticals. For more information about Smithers Rapra visit

About Smithers Rapra:

Smithers Rapra has been a trusted partner of the plastics and rubber industries for over 90 years. Our business is built around delivering a complete portfolio of rubber and plastic testing services to support a wide range of industry sectors including tire, automotive, polymer products, oil and gas, medical device, pharmaceutical, transport, packaging, industrial, and consumer products. By integrating science, technology and business expertise, Smithers’ goal is to add value throughout the life cycle of our clients’ products. Please visit

About The Smithers Group:

Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, The Smithers Group includes Smithers Apex, Smithers Avanza, Smithers Pira, Smithers Quality Assessments, Smithers Rapra, and Smithers Viscient. Each Smithers Group company provides technology-based services focused on a defined market. As a group, the diversity of market sectors and technologies provides stability and a platform for long-term growth. By integrating science, technology and business expertise, Smithers’ goal is to add value throughout the life cycle of our clients’ products, by utilizing testing, consulting, information, and compliance services. All Smithers companies are known by their clients as Trusted Providers of Innovative Solutions. For more information, visit

You can reach the Smithers Rapra North America office at:

425 West Market Street
Akron, Ohio 44303
Telephone: 330-762-7441