UTA to host teams from across the country at 18th annual Texas Autocross Weekend
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 18th Annual Texas Autocross Weekend Sept. 29-30.
Cars are designed, built and raced by students.
“We have a long tradition of success building these cars. Formula SAE is a great way for students in all areas of engineering, and even non-engineering majors, to see what it takes to successfully design, build and fund a racing team,” said Bob Woods, UTA mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, who has been with the UTA College of Engineering since 1974 and running the racing program since 1982. “Obviously, it’s a lot of fun and it’s a chance to build camaraderie among the teams, but the level of competition is very high, even when all that’s at stake are bragging rights.”
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, Sept. 29, 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, Sept. 30, on Lot 49 for the collegiate teams. Woods stressed that the racing isn’t official but all the teams do watch the clock.
“The Texas Autocross weekend is a great opportunity for all of the teams to show off the technology they’ve developed for the cars, and it’s an even better opportunity for anyone who’s interested in racing to see these cars up close,” Woods said.
The UTA team has enjoyed success all over the world, with five championships in the United States and one each in England, Australia and Japan. The team returned to Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom in July to participate in the 20th anniversary of Formula Student, the British version of FSAE. UTA brought its 1998 car and members of the team that won the first-ever Formula Student race that year, as well as the 2018 team and car.
UTA Racing also has an extensive alumni base, many of whom come back to visit the program, and many, many sponsors, including the late Arnold Petsche, who donated $1 million to the College of Engineering in 2012 to establish the Arnold E. Petsche Center for Automotive Engineering.
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.
-- written by Jeremy Agor