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Famous Car Racer Endorses Students’ Fund Drive

River Hawk Formula SAE Team Plans to Compete in May

Student Ryan McIntosh test drives River Hawk Racing’s Formula SAE car.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

World-renowned car racer Mario Andretti has recently endorsed the fund-raising efforts of UMass Lowell’s Formula SAE team.

The student club hopes to enter its race car at the Michigan International Speedway in May, a competition sanctioned by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). More than 100 student-designed, built and driven open-wheel Formula-style cars from universities around the world are expected to participate.

“This is not recreational racing,” Andretti wrote in a letter to the UMass Lowell team. “This is a battle of our future engineers.”

Andretti; who raced professionally from the 1960s to the 1980s, driving Formula One cars from Lotus, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo and winning major titles at the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Grand Prix and NASCAR; said the students’ Formula SAE race cars symbolize design, speed and technology.

“Each car is conceived, designed and fabricated solely by engineering students,” he said. “Because there are relatively few races in the SAE competition, each holds tremendous significance.”

Last December, the River Hawk team exhibited its race car at the New England International Auto Show in Boston to raise awareness about the student project and attract new sponsors.

“Programs like these are an important part of the automotive and engineering industry,” wrote Andretti. “The value of engineers today is immeasurable. With the proper funding, UMass Lowell will do well in [the Michigan] competition. I encourage companies that will look to hire these students someday to support the current effort with sponsorship dollars. These are your future employees; you want them in this competition. And without funding, they can’t compete.”

Mario Andretti at the 1991 U.S. Grand Prix in Phoenix, Ariz.