Zionsville Student Helps Turn Junked Mercedes into the Ultimate Racing Car

CEDARVILLE, OHIO – Professor Jay Kinsinger and a team of senior mechanical engineering students from Cedarville University are gearing up for the Grassroots Motorsports $2,000 Challenge in Gainesville, Florida. The competition is set to take place on April 6-7.

The team, composed of six senior mechanical engineering students, including Zionsville resident Zach Denlinger, has been diligently working since the start of the 2023 fall semester to construct a competitive race car within a budget of $2,000. They have turned a junked Mercedes into what they believe will be a winning car in the national competition. This ambitious endeavor serves as a practical exercise in cost-benefit analysis, providing students with invaluable real-world experience.

“The tight budget necessitates creative problem-solving and unconventional approaches to engineering,” remarked Kinsinger, who teaches mechanical and biomedical engineering. “Our goal is to build the best race car within the competition’s constraints.”

The Grassroots Motorsports Challenge evaluates race cars across three categories: autocross, drag racing, and a concours d’elegance. The judges emphasize speed, performance, and aesthetics while adhering to strict budgetary limitations.

Cedarville University made its debut in the competition in 2022, securing 11th place overall and earning top honors for its car’s design – a retro 1957 Nash Metropolitan.

“This year’s team has poured their hearts into the project, and we’re optimistic about our prospects,” Kinsinger added. “We’re aiming for a podium finish.”

The team’s vehicle, a ’95 C-Class 4-door Mercedes salvaged by Kinsinger, underwent extensive modifications to enhance its performance. After stripping nearly 2,000 pounds from the vehicle and redesigning its aerodynamics, the car is now nearing completion.

As the competition draws near, the team is focused on finalizing the car’s bodywork and transmission, ensuring it’s ready for rigorous testing before the event.

“This project serves as a culmination of our seniors’ engineering education, providing them with invaluable skills and experience,” Kinsinger concluded. “We’re grateful for the opportunity and remain committed to showcasing our creativity and dedication on the racetrack.”

Cedarville’s team consists of Tim Junker (Cedarville, Ohio), Ryan Cole (Cedarville, Ohio), Kennedy Southland (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Will Hanak (Hebron, Kentucky), Zach Denlinger (Zionsville, Indiana) and John Thomson (Greenwood, Missouri). Junker is the team’s driver.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is a Baptist university with  undergraduate programs in arts, sciences, and professional programs, and graduate programs. With an enrollment of 5,456 students in 175 areas of study, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio and is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, such as the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and high graduation and retention rates. For more information about the university, visit cedarville.edu.

About Brian Scott

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