By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer
For gearheads and racers alike, Baylor Driving Club is the university’s slice of car culture.
Thursday night on top of the East Village parking garage, the club convened for its weekly meeting. Sugar Land senior Lucas Martin, the Baylor Driving Club president, was one of a couple dozen mingling and checking out other’s rides. His even-keeled demeanor was hardly a match for the $8,000 of modifications underneath his 2016 Subaru WRX. While attendees and their cars continued to trickle in, Martin listed the array of activities the club is involved in.
“We meet every Thursday [at 6 p.m.] on top of the East Village parking garage. We have events such as autocross… drag racing, go-karting, we do movie nights, we do game nights, just anything car related,” Martin said.
Of the club’s activities, Martin said autocross is among his favorites. Autocross is a timed event where competitors race through temporary courses laid out with cones in a parking lot or skidpad. The driving club participates in a few each semester. The controlled environment and lack of wheel-to-wheel competition, Martin said makes it a safe way to sate the need for speed.
“You’re racing against the clock, not directly against other people, but it’s a fun and competitive way to safely test the limits of your car,” Martin said. “You can [race] your own personal vehicle, we have a lot of people doing that. We have a few people [racing] the club Mustang.”
Martin and some other members compete with their own vehicles. The club also owns its own racecar, a 1994 Ford Mustang GT with safety and performance upgrades. This serves as a way for members without a suitable vehicle of their own to be a part of the competitive events.
“Our club racecar is not just for show; we do race it at [autocross], we let our members race it – If you pay dues you can race the car,” Martin said. “We teach manual driving clinics, if you don’t know how to drive manual we’ll teach you how to do it, and you have the chance to race this car in actual motorsport.”
More straightforward is drag racing. Club members periodically take to the quarter-mile at Little River Dragway near Temple. Montgomery junior Peter Schier, the club’s treasurer and the owner of a tuned Ford Fiesta, said he enjoys participating in both kinds of events.
“They’re super exciting; most people have never done any competitive driving with their car,” Schier said. “It’s a super fun thing to be able to do, it’s kind of like a roller coaster on flat ground. It’s definitely a lot of fun and I think more people should try to do it.”
Racing, no matter how fun, is inherently dangerous. Martin said safety is paramount to the driving club.
“We do really stress safety in this club because you can’t not do that when there’s heavy machinery like cars involved,” Martin said. “Every time we have a racing event, we make sure everybody knows what they’re doing, especially with the club car. There’s a lot of liability in that so we have waivers and we make sure they can actually drive the car before we let them race it.”
The driving club is open to all, whether or not they own a car, or even have a driver’s license. Unlicensed members shouldn’t expect to hop behind the wheel, but Schier said anyone looking to meet up and talk about cars is welcome.
“You don’t have to have a car to be into cars,” Schier said. “[Anyone who is interested] should come at least visit, see if they like it. If they don’t, then no problem, it’s just not their thing. But I think everyone should at least explore the idea.”