Nine Sleds Complete 2014 Clean Snowmobile Challenge Endurance Run

Driver Noor Jariri and the SUNY Buffalo sled, which completed the 2014 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge Endurance Run.
Driver Noor Jariri and the SUNY Buffalo sled, which completed the 2014 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge Endurance Run.

A record nine sleds crossed the finish line Tuesday at the end of the Endurance Run, the first public event of the 2014 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, which is hosted by Michigan Technological University.

In this Society of Automotive Engineers competition, engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it. Their aim: to reduce emissions and noise and increase fuel efficiency while preserving the riding excitement demanded by snowmobile enthusiasts.

“I’m amazed and pleased that we had this many teams finish,” said Jay Meldrum, lead organizer of the Challenge. In past years, no more than six sleds have been able to complete the 100-mile event.

Ten teams started the Endurance Run. Student drivers run several laps on the winter test track at Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center before heading north on snowmobile trails to Copper Harbor, Michigan’s northernmost community.

None of the snowmobiles were forced out by mechanical failures. One team, Northern Illinois University, had to withdraw after accidentally departing from the marked course and stopping, a violation of Endurance Run rules.

The successful teams were the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, the University of Idaho, Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Michigan Tech, the State University of New York at Buffalo, North Dakota State University, the University of Minnesota Duluth and Kettering University.

Most sleds were running on an undisclosed cocktail of gasoline and isobutanol, a biofuel made from corn. A couple successful entries, however, were using a biodiesel blend, including the team from SUNY Buffalo. “I think we’ll do well on fuel economy,” said driver Noor Jariri, adding that a check of the fuel tank revealed it was still nearly full.

The drivers had nothing but praise for the taut trails, beautiful scenery and the bright, chilly weather. And organizers had nothing but praise for the students.

“It was excellent,” said Professor Emeritus Bill Shapton, an early advocate for SAE collegiate design competitions like the Clean Snowmobile Challenge. “We had a perfect day, and everybody made it. The quality of the snowmobiles has really gone up, and I’m very proud of the students.”

On Wednesday, March 5, the teams will have their sleds on display from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Copper Country Mall. Everyone is invited to view the entries and talk with the participants about their design strategies.

On Saturday, March 8, the Polaris Acceleration Event begins at 10 a.m., followed by the Polaris Handling Event at 11 a.m. In addition, the Challenge's battery-powered, zero-emissions entries will undergo their Acceleration and Load Test at 11 a.m. All three events are open to the public and are held at the Keweenaw Research Center Test Course.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is sponsored at Michigan Tech by the Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics. For more information on the Challenge, see

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.