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In Support

Gift from WVU alumni to benefit Formula SAE team

Racing team with their car

Mark Ziegler and Justin Moser with Todd and Michelle Brown

Written by William Nevin

The latest gift from longtime West Virginia University supporters Dan and Betsy Brown will help fund activities related to the WVU Formula SAE racing team in the Statler College.

The significant donation will be used by the WVU Formula SAE team in preparation for 2019 competition. 

The team partnered with Rooster Hall Racing of Louisa, Virginia, owned by the Brown’s son and daughter-in-law, Todd and Michelle Brown. RHR provided two internships to WVU students this year as it competed in the Pirelli World Challenge Series. 

The RHR team and driver Johan Schwartz, who set the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous car drift in a BMW, rely on student interns to acquire performance data during each race from their WVU-branded BMW M235i touring car. Between races, the students analyzed and compared the collected data with driver feedback to make adjustments to increase the vehicle’s performance throughout the season. 

“We are thankful for the support of Dan and Betsy Brown and excited about our partnership with Rooster Hall Racing,” said Justin Kachel, Mountaineer Racing Formula SAE project manager. “The internship for students Mark Ziegler and Justin Moser and the technical expertise that team owners Todd and Michelle Brown, driver Johan Schwartz, team manager Kevin Tuuri and crew chief Eric Meyer will share with the WVU students during the coming year is a tremendous learning opportunity for our team. We look forward to meeting Dan and Betsy Brown and keeping them posted about our team’s activities and progress throughout the year.” 

Dan and Betsy Brown

The student interns are seasoned team members of WVU Formula SAE, a student race car design competition that encompasses all aspects of the automotive industry including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management and finance. 

Throughout the internship, students will be working to promote the WVU Formula SAE team on a national level in hopes of increasing sponsorship and fundraising opportunities for the team. RHR will provide the students with WVU-branded display tents during each race so that they can conduct interviews and publicity events to highlight their experience. 

Scott Wayne, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and WVU Formula SAE advisor, said the students also plan to devote some of the donated funds toward building an engine dynamometer testing facility that will allow the team to test and tune their race engines. Funds will also allow students to attend the Optimum G Advanced Vehicle Dynamics and Data Driven Performance Engineering seminars, where they will learn how to design and analyze their race car’s suspension. 

“The team also hopes to compete in all three North American Formula SAE events in 2019, which would not be possible without support from generous sponsors like the Brown family,” Wayne said. 

Dan Brown graduated from WVU in 1959 with a degree in business administration. He is retired from The Capital Group Companies, Inc. Betsy Brown also is a 1959 graduate of the University, earning her degree in agriculture and forestry. The Browns have been longtime philanthropic supporters of WVU, providing gifts over the years to numerous areas of the University. In 2009, the Browns were recognized as Outstanding Philanthropists by the WVU Foundation. 

Todd and Michelle Brown have owned Rooster Hall Racing since 2014. Their daughter, Erin, played soccer at WVU and graduated in 2016.