For the first time since their 2007 installation, UC Davis’ Motorsports Club (DMC) is shooting to get a race car to the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Nationals.
The club was founded with the intention of building a community at UC Davis around automobile and motorsport interests, and hopes to make known the opportunities that various autocross events present.
Autocross is a type of motorsport where drivers attempt to maneuver their car through a structured course in a timed competition. Nationals, which is the biggest motorsport event in the U.S., is run by the SCCA, and racers must compete in local, district and divisional competition events. After participating in a certain amount of races, the competitor can then qualify for nationals.
This year, DMC is attempting to raise enough money in order to race a car of their own.
DMC’s president, fourth-year genetics major Lori Rothmuller has been involved in autocross since she was 16.
“I do race cars. I think it’s awesome!” Rothmuller said. “Part of our project is to get as many people involved in racing as possible because it’s one of those things that people might not hear about, but I mean, I’d love to drive a car fast where it’s completely legal. I think, at least, even to do it just once is pretty cool.”
DMC holds its meetings every other Friday at Lamppost Pizza, where they discuss all things autocross and have occasional special get-togethers such as movie nights.
“We do get-togethers for “Top Gear” — their new season just aired so we have a viewing party for that,” Rothmuller said. “It’s a smaller club right now and that’s also part of why we want to do this — to get more interest.”
Vice president and second-year aerospace engineering major Ivan Pandev discovered DMC as a freshman.
“I was just walking back to my dorm, and I see a car drive by with a Davis Motorsports sticker on the window and I was like, that sounds like something I want to be a part of,” Pandev said.
Pandev said that while growing up, he had a difficult time finding a group of people who shared his intense passion for motorsports, like those at DMC do.
“Everybody has a really deep passion for it. Motorsports, by its nature is very expensive and time-consuming and involves a lot of equipment, so our goal with this project car is to make the sport accessible to a lot of people,” Pandev said.
Although DMC has been around for about seven years now, Rothmuller admits this is the first attempt at such a large-scale endeavor.
“The club has had that lingering team-car idea for a while,” Pandev said. “We started talking at one of our club meets, and we started thinking about how cool it would be if we had a project car. Again, I wasn’t expecting us to go to Nationals with it; I was just thinking it would be a car we could bond over, a symbol of the DMC. Lori brought that competitive aspect; she’s super ambitious with it. She and founding member Alex Kang — they sort of have like a fire in them. They got together and thought, let’s shoot for the moon with this.”
Kang started racing at the age of 17 and was a big initiating factor in this campaign
“Going to nationals and competing at the highest level is first an incredible experience, but it is also a way to improve your own skills by seeing and experiencing the highest level of competition,” Kang said. “Competing at a national level is something that all groups, professors, students and staff are trying to do daily for the campus. By increasing our profile in all aspects, even in the realm of amateur and club motorsports, we increase the profile of UC Davis and the values of our degrees.”
The campaign is featured on the site “Crowdtilt”, which is essentially a fundraising website that allows people to give donations, but they will not be charged unless the goal amount is reached.
“The campaign is featured on the fundraising site “Crowdtilt”, and Rothmuller said she’s doing everything she can to counteract the “buy us a car” impression that some people might mistakenly perceive their efforts to be.”
Back during founding member Kang’s presidentship, DMC had acquired a race car which participated in two Picnic Day parades. However, lack of funding forced them to give it away.
Despite this, the current campaign is aiming even higher.
“Part of it is I want to see what’s the biggest thing we can pull off,” Rothmuller said. “This is a pretty big thing obviously. It’s really beneficial for me and the other members, and if you’re involved, I think it’s a really great thing that we’ve all been working on together. It’s just this kind of: let’s see what college kids can do!”