17th Annual Texas Autocross Weekend to bring in teams from across the country
Collegiate auto racing teams from across the country will converge on The University of Texas at Arlington campus to rev their engines and compete against the clock at the 17thAnnual Texas Autocross Weekend July 8-9.
Cars are designed, built and raced by students.
“We want to have a good time but students learn so much about automotive engineering in conceiving, designing, building and running these cars,” said Bob Woods, UTA mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, who has been in the UTA College of Engineering since 1974 and running the racing program since 1982. “Building these cars from the ground up gives students real-world experience. It impresses businesses in this type of industry and many, many of these students are hired into the top jobs in the industry.”
Autocross is a form of racing involving a pattern of sweeping and hairpin turns, slaloms and straightaways. Cars race against the clock. The best time wins.
But more importantly, Woods said the best team gets bragging rights until next year’s meet.
Racing starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 8, on Lot 49 on the UTA campus. It’s at the southeast corner of Mitchell and Cooper streets. Saturday will be a competition on the traditional endurance course in the morning and a different course in the afternoon. A drivers meeting is at 8 a.m. Volunteers from the Texas Region of Sports Car Club of America will handle timing. Parking for viewing is located just east of the racetrack.
Several universities are attending this year, including teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and others. Some schools will bring more than one car to the event.
Racing continues at 9 a.m. Sunday, July 9, on Lot 49 for the collegiate teams. Woods stressed that the racing isn’t official but all the teams do watch the clock.
“Another strength of the event is the camaraderie that builds among the participants. They learn from each other,” Woods said. “Those alliances sometimes last for decades, well past the degrees the participants earn at their schools. Sometimes that networking carries on in the professional world as well.”
The UTA team has an extensive alumni base, many of whom come back to visit the program. The team also has many, many sponsors. One of the more active sponsors is Arnold Petsche, who donated $1 million to the UTA College of Engineering to establish the Arnold E. Petsche Center for Automotive Engineering.
The Center promotes engineering education, innovation and entrepreneurship, especially through student participation in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers program, which Woods advises.
Woods was honored in 2013 with the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Excellence in Engineering Education Award for his contributions in engineering education. He was named a 2017 Piper Professor by the San Antonio-based Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation and recently received the prestigious University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.