Drag racing student club takes on Camaro project, car show
There's not a class called Drag Car 101 in the Automotive Technology (AUT) degree plan, but students who learn to overhaul engines and fix up cars often want to test out a vehicle's top speed. With the TSTC Technical Drag Racing Association (TDRA), students can race safely off the street and on the drag strip.
For the group's advisor Rudy Cervantez, AUT assistant department chair, safety was a key concern when he started the TDRA in September 2010.
"I'd hear about students driving their vehicles well over the speed limit and get on to them for breaking the law," Cervantez said. "With the club they can come with us to the drag strip, pay a reduced rate and race their friends in a safer, controlled environment."
The idea took off and the TDRA has nearly 40 members comprised of students from several technologies on campus. Now an organized association with trips to a local drag strip each semester, the group is taking on bigger projects. One of the club's members Jake Simmons, an MET student, donated a 1976 Camaro to TSTC for the club to restore and get track-ready.
With the project car keeping them busy after their monthly meetings, Cervantez and his students have turned their plans toward raising support and donations to get the parts they need to finish it out. The group has a drivetrain including a 454 big-block Chevy motor, but has a long way to go to completely restore the car.
"We're not going to finish the car this year, but we're going to do it up right," Cervantez said. "We want to make as much of the things we need for the car as possible. We want to weld and cut as much of it as we can by hand. To me that's part of the fun and the learning. We're not just buying something and bolting it on."
But even the raw materials to create the frame and dashboard cost money, so the TDRA is hosting an on-campus car and motorcycle show Saturday, March 31, to raise money for the Camaro project. The entry fee is just $20 for all vehicles and admission is free. In addition to the show, there will also be a new car corral featuring an all-electric vehicle, bikes from Victory and Harley Davidson and a swap meet offering anything and everything an automotive enthusiast could want for trade or sale.
Cervantez said the show is open to anyone who wants to register and to vendors on a donation basis. The group is hoping to raise around $2,000 for the Camaro project through the car show and other fundraisers. Every little bit helps, and individuals and businesses who donate parts and money will get their name listed on the car.
As parts and money come in, Cervantez said the group will do what work it can on the Camaro. His goal is to have it completed by the end of 2013.
"We'll work some and fundraise some to get parts and then work some more," he said. "We might not see it come together now, but down the road we will have a lot of students and alumni who can say they had a part in working on this car. It's going to be worth it in the end when it's sitting out there on the track with the TSTC logo on it."
The TDRA meet at 5:30 p.m. every first Wednesday of every month in Room 115 of the Kultgen Automotive Center. The next meeting is Wednesday, March 7. The car show is planned in conjunction with TSTC's annual College Preview & Open House March 30-31. For more information on the TDRA and the car show, contact Rudy Cervantez at (254) 867-2263.
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