Hear from Smithers Winter Test Center’s
General Manager, Sean Connolly, on how the 2022 winter testing season progressed. With “great” winter weather and some updates to our facilities and tracks, it was a great year to be in Brimley, Michigan.
What Were Some Of The Highlights From This Season?
Compared to last season, this season had exceptional weather. It was very cold, and the snow made for great track conditions, which was great.
We added a new rental building to support our growing client base on-site. In addition, we started planning that would allow us to create several new elements to shared track
features as well as some possible exclusive areas that have been requested in the past year.
On a lighter note, we’ve adjusted our food offerings over the past few years and feel like we’ve found a good mix of options. Our food truck days are very popular with our clients. We understand that everyone is trying to be extremely efficient with their testing programs in a compressed season and want to continue to provide these types of options to make the time on-site productive but also enjoyable and convenient.
Were There Any New Track Additions?
Yes, we added new features to Area 14,
our off-road course, which includes a twist ditch used for vehicle torsion twist and used to test suspension systems. We also modified the slope for this area by adding deeper snow.
Are You Looking To Make Any Improvements Next Year?
We did get a few requests to adjust the terrain in our off-road course, which would provide additional conditions for suspension system evaluations. We’re looking at adding a new freezer which would accommodate up to 4-6 vehicles. There also has been a push to expand our EV infrastructure by adding more EV
charging stations and so this is something we are planning for next season. In addtion, we are in the planning stage of added a new road course for 2023.
What Was The Most Frequently Used Track This Season?
It was a combination of Areas 5
These areas include a long concrete run-up to a snow transition that has an ice lane and giant snowfield at the end. Clients execute j-turn maneuvers at area 5 then turn down lane 7 - which includes ice, asphalt, and transitions to alternating mu surfaces. The next most popular testing area would be Area 52
, a large snowfield. Clients are able to test stability control, handling, and braking as well as overall handling performance.
What Made This Season Successful?
If it wasn’t for our employees and staff, we would not be successful. We are a 24/7 operation during the busy winter months. From constant attention to detail on surface preparation to ensuring that our clients have what they need while on-site, our team did a fantastic job of maintaining client satisfaction. The operation is complex and is constantly adapting to quickly changing weather conditions and testing requirements. I’m extremely proud of our employees’ efforts during a busy four-month season.
What Are You Looking Forward To Next Season?
We were able to work with several new clients this year who are planning to return in 2023. The new track expansion is also something our team is excited to get up and running to support additional testing. We continue to see more testing for electric vehicles
, so we’re working hard to increase our testing and support services to meet these emerging needs. Most of all, we’re looking forward to more consistent, winter weather for next year.