Just writing the words gives me chills. The video still make me partly tear up, party smile uncontrollably.
By the time the announcer at Formula Student at the Silverstone racetrack had gotten this far in the award ceremony, we had started realising the incredible fact.
As we were racking up points in all the events, as we were seeing top 5 placement after top 5 placement – we realised we had done well. Very well. And back home at Chalmers, we had a hard core of followers – okay, no more than 10 people or so, but still – with spreadsheets, keeping track of our scores and the other top teams’ scores.
One calculation said we got second, and had lost to Delft with 8 points. Delft was already announcing this and celebrating. However, a second calculation said we had won with five points. And someone from Delft came over and congratulated us. By now we were confused. Utterly confused.
Normally, you can track the results of the competition fairly easily and by the award ceremony, the Top 3 stands out pretty clear. This time around, not so much. The air was tense and personally I had no idea where to go or what to do. I was shaky and all smiles and on the verge of tears and afraid of being disappointed. (Disappointed with a second place? What?? Three days earlier I would have become ecstatic just by the mere thought!)
We had been working on this for more than 9 months. Day in, day out. Long days, afternoons, evenings and nights – in the work shop, in the race bay and in the computer lab. I had prepared a 500-page cost analysis, prepped the team for the design event, pitched to a long row of partners, written a business plan and pitch for the competition, prepared tons of documents, done registration quizzes, prepared sustainability statements, spent hours in the workshop making metal brackets, organised paint jobs, evaluated a brake disc production assignment, been present at fairs, career days and company events, made (and drunk!) hundreds of litres of coffee. Some weeks I spend 110+ hours in school. I had laughed, I had cried, I had joked and been pissed off, often all at the same time. I had handled other peoples’s frustrations and conflicts. I had convinced someone not to drop out of the project. I had convinced yet other people to go home and rest. I had probably spent more team with each one of my team mates individually than I had spent with my boyfriend all year.
And there we were. The third place had been announced, and we were not it. As the announcer announced “First runner up – Delft!” my heart skipped several beats. What? But… that means…
I guess we knew. But even as we understood we couldn’t really fathom it, and in the video I can see how we are all dealing with it, holding around each other, sitting still with eyes closed, trying not to cry, trying not to laugh out loud.
And the winner is… A team from Sweden….
We didn’t even give him time to announce what University we were before we were half way up the floor, screaming, shouting, laughing, crying… Some of the toughest guys I know were crying. I just couldn’t stop laughing. The trophy. The screams. The hugs.
In that moment, it was all worth it – every single minute of struggle, of work and of late nights alone in the goddamned computer lab in the basement of Chalmers.
(Quick background: FSAE is the largest student engineering competition in the world, originally founded by GM and Ford with the aim to teach automotive engineers real life applicable skills. The challenge is to conceive, design, build, cost, present and compete as a team with a small single-seat racing car in a series of static and dynamic competitions. In 2012 we became the first Scandinavian team ever to win the competition at Silverstone, UK and we also achieved 3rd place in Hockenheim, Germany)