VCU students build formula-style cars from scratch

The student-led organization builds formula-style cars from scratch and races them in Formula SAE competitions.
Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 6:33 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - VCU Ram Racing is shifting into gear for its next race.

The student-led organization builds formula-style cars from scratch and races them in Formula SAE competitions.

“The vehicles that we design are built by us, tested by us, and driven by us,” Ram Racing’s President Yaqub Mukhtar said.

The team was created back in 2003. It’s been on the fast track as motorsports become even more popular.

Ram Racing recently took the car to Old Dominion University, where students placed 11th out of 80 teams.

“We got some experience with some of the new members to understand the competition, feeling, the moments, the pressure,” Mukhtar said.

Students started working on the car, 02 in 2019. The cars only last about two years, so they’re already working on the next vehicle, 03.

Some parts they outsource from other places, but other parts they try to put together themselves.

Competing in local races allows them to see what went wrong and how to fix it.

“[We] go through, run the car, see what issues we had,” Jonathan Morton said. “We can take, iterate on the design, and apply to it our next model.”

VCU junior Elizabeth Strickler’s job is to build the steering system. Her love for mechanics started when she was little after watching Pixar’s film ‘Cars’ for the first time.

“I realized I could design the future of sports cars and maybe get into Formula 1 if I had a mechanical engineering background,” Strickler said.

Being a female pursuing a career in a male-dominated industry comes with its own challenges, but Strickler says her confidence comes from her passion.

It’s a lesson she learned from her parents.

“My dad was very much about as a woman, do what you want,” Strickler said. “Don’t get scared that men are going to be around you. My mom was the same way. They both loved automotive, and they both were glad I was doing something that I was passionate about.”

You don’t have to be an engineering student to join Ram Racing. There’s opportunities for every student with every interest.

“We have business aspects of it, PR and marketing,” Strickler added. “There’s room for everybody to come here, and you don’t have to come in with any experience. We want to teach people. We want to learn together because at the end of the day, we’re all just really passionate about cars. “

Ram Racing will take the car to Michigan in May 2024 for the International Formula SAE competition.

If you want to help support the student organization, click here.