The Baja SAE competition is an intercollegiate engineering competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The competition challenges students to design, build, test and race off-road vehicles known as Baja Buggies or Baja SAE cars.

The objective of the competition is to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Participants form teams and work together to design and construct a single-seat, all-terrain vehicle that can withstand the demands of rough off-road conditions. The vehicles must be safe, reliable, and capable of navigating various types of terrain, including rocks, mud, and uneven surfaces.

During the competition, the design teams must provide a design presentation and cost presentation of their vehicle. Additionally, the teams’ vehicles undergo a series of dynamic and static events to evaluate their performance and design. These events typically include acceleration tests, maneuverability challenges, hill climbs, suspension and traction tests, and endurance races. The competition judges assess the vehicles based on criteria such as speed, acceleration, maneuverability, endurance, and overall vehicle design.

Baja SAE competitions are held at various locations around the world, attracting participation from universities and colleges worldwide. It is an exciting and highly regarded event within the engineering community, providing a platform for students to showcase their skills and creativity in vehicle design and performance.

In 2022 engineering students from Ecole de Technologie Superieure (race team name Baja ETS) in Montreal, Canada approached GMP Friction Products after researching sintered metallic high energy friction materials. Baja ETS was looking for a sponsor for the Baja SAE competition as well as insights into using sintered metallic high friction clutch discs for the new four-wheel drive system they had designed for their Baja Buggy.

GMP Friction Products staff competed in similar SAE competitions when they were college students as well and understand the importance of providing practical, real-world experience for engineering students in designing and bringing a product to market.

“Baja ETS came to us with a design concept and explained to us what they wanted to achieve.” said Dave Farwell, Director of Research and Development for GMP Friction Products. “We suggested a friction material and provided test data as to its capabilities. Additionally, we provided insights into developing a system that would work well with our sintered metallic material, and that would provide tunability and meet the torque specifications that were required. We worked together with Baja ETS to design a system that provided an easy way to engage additional clutch discs or remove clutch discs based on how much torque they needed for a specific event.”

One of the key factors in making the Baja ETS 4 x 4 clutch system so effective was the sintered metallic friction material and clutch discs provided by GMP Friction Products.

“SAE changed the motor requirement this year to a 14 HP motor (up from 10 HP) which generated much more torque.” said Jerome Pearson, Project Lead for Baja ETS.

“In previous years, we used organic clutch pads in our design. With the increased torque of the new motor, we wanted to explore sintered metallic clutch discs. We wanted to change from organic clutch discs because they did not meet our expectations in the past. We found the clutch would slip a little too early and we were never able to reach the amount of torque we wanted to transfer to the wheels. It was OK, it worked – but it wasn’t optimal. In working with GMP Friction Products, we realized the sintered metallic based clutch was more efficient in the energy and torque it transmits. We were able to have much more energy density through the center of the sintered metallic discs.

With our new clutch system, we have 5 different settings we can engage to increase or decrease the strength ratio of our clutch system.  The sintered metallic friction material and clutch discs from GMP Friction Products allowed Baja ETS to really make the magic happen.

The Baja SAE Competition has four dynamics trials ranging from Acceleration to Sled Pull to Maneuverability to Suspension and Traction. During the Sled Pull for example, we had a particular clutch setup for that event because we wanted to have the most torque possible to the front and back wheels to generate the maximum traction.

Additionally, one of the key elements the Baja ETS teams is very proud of is that we were able to reach 1st place in the acceleration event (so technically we have the fastest car) and we reached 11th place in Sled Pull. These two events are almost completely opposite when you think about it. A heavy car will be able to pull the weight a lot easier while a lighter car will be able to go faster but unable to pull the weight. We were able to achieve a really good balance with our vehicle, thanks to the sintered metallic clutch discs from GMP Friction Products. We were able to have a new, more powerful, more compact, and more efficient system. It was a huge advantage for Baja ETS in the competition.”

At the time of this writing there have been 2 Baja SAE competitions in 2023. The first was on May 4th in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA. The second was on May 23rd in Oregon, USA. In both competitions the results for the Baja ETS team with the GMP Friction Products sintered metallic clutch system were nothing short of spectacular.

For the May 4th competition, Baja ETS had the following results:

  • 2nd place Overall
  • 2nd place in Sales Presentation
  • 1st place in Design
  • 1st place in Acceleration
  • 3rd place in Maneuverability
  • 3rd place in Endurance
  • 2nd place in Overall Dynamic
  • 1st place in Overall Static

View complete results here:

For the May 23rd competition, Baja ETS had the following results:

  • 1st place in Overall
  • 1st place in Design
  • 1st place in Acceleration
  • 1st place in Maneuverability
  • 3rd place in Hill Climb
  • 2nd place in Rock Crawl
  • 3rd place in Endurance
  • 2nd place in Overall Dynamic
  • 1st place in Overall Static

View complete results here:

GMP Friction Products was delighted to provide sponsorship for the Baja ETS team, and we are proud of the results the team has achieved with their design.

“These collegiate teams are dear to our hearts as Dave Farwell and I competed with the University of Akron’s SAE Formula racing team.” said Rick Cardarelli, President of GMP Friction Products.

“We were once the college kids reaching out to companies like GMP for help and donations. The Baja ETS team has done well in the competitions and GMP is elated that we have assisted in their success.”

GMP Friction Products, based in Akron, Ohio, is a world leader in high energy sintered metallic friction materials. We offer custom solutions in sintered brake pads, dry brake and clutch applications, as well as wet brake and clutch applications using sintered metallic friction materials.

For more information call 330-633-1226 or visit our website at