University of Minnesota FSAE Team Chooses Southco Products for Formula One Racecar Design

Southco’s access hardware solutions have been incorporated into a wide variety of applications, including everything from yachts to data servers, so when the University of Minnesota Formula SAE (FSAE) team contacted Southco about donating some of its Quarter-Turn Fasteners for their racecar design, Southco was ready.

Formula SAE® is a student design competition organized by SAE International that challenges students to develop a small Formula-style racecar. The design process typically lasts 8-12 months and includes building, testing and preparing the car for the annual SAE Formula Competition.

However, it’s not the speed of the car that the judges are evaluating, it is the overall quality of the vehicle and its potential as a marketable production item. Teams are judged on everything from the design and cost of the vehicle to its performance, with regard to acceleration, fuel economy and endurance.

According to Maclean Potts, junior mechanical engineering major at UMN and project manager for the team, he scoured the Internet for the best quality hardware for what his team was trying to accomplish and his search brought him to Southco.

When Southco acquired Dzus in 2004, it also acquired the company’s Racing Panel Fastener line, which was designed specifically for race vehicles and motorsport applications. Southco’s Dzus Quarter-Turn Fastener line can be adapted to meet the needs of many diverse applications.

Potts chose Southco Dzus Lion Quarter-Turn Fasteners, which were used to mount the seat to the frame of the car body. Two Quarter-Turns are located in the front of the seat, and two were installed in the back of the seat body, to secure the flange behind the shoulder area, so it would lay correctly against the frame. Dzus Quarter-Turns are secure, vibration resistant, and allow for quick installation and easy release, making them a good fit for the team’s application requirements.

Potts was pleased with the results and said it’s all about motivation and managing the project successfully to completion. Students are responsible for everything from designing the car to raising the money and securing the supplies necessary to build it.

“If you’re working on a project and you want to do something cool, it’s up to you to make it happen,” said Potts, “It’s a good way to apply what you have learned in class to a real project.”

The team, which has 30 members this year, recruits entering UMN freshmen mechanical engineering and automotive majors annually. If it seems like a lot of work for a full time college student to take on, it is, but it’s also a rewarding experience that’s worth the hours they put into it.

This year’s car cost an estimated $70K to build, which included cash donations as well as donations of parts such as steel, aluminum, prototyping services and assembly parts needed to complete structural elements, such as the body and frame construction.


Southco is proud to have helped the UMN FSAE team reach the finish line with its donation. The car contended at the annual SAE Formula Competition at the National Michigan International Speedway in May.

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