Hilltop Motorsports: SMU’s fastest club

You might be thinking that the track team is the fastest team on campus, but if this team of automotive enthusiasts accomplishes their goal of creating a fully-functioning racing team, then they’ll be the fastest students on campus by far.

Formula SAE (FSAE) is a racing competition put on by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in which teams compete to build the best preforming car across a number of disciplines. Schools from all over the country enter this competition, and Hilltop Motorsports, founded by a group of SMU students last year, is looking to finally bring success to SMU on this national stage.

Team captain Grady Hurwitz says that their goal is “to make it to competition and score points in every event.” Along the way he hopes that they “learn everything there is to know about building a racecar in a year: from R&D and welding to marketing and management.”

To accomplish this lofty goal, team leaders are spending up to 60 hours a week in the machine shops at the Lyle School of Engineering. Theeben Ganeshan, co-founder and suspension design leader for the team, has described it as “a full time job minus the pay.”

Why are these students spending nearly all of their time on this project? Co-founder and engineering lead Ari Colton describes the team members’ “passion for racing, autocross, and a desire to work in the automotive industry” as their reason to start the club.

Colton described the FSAE competition as the “engineering job fair” for anyone who wants to work for companies such as Ford, Ferrari or Formula 1 race teams. Additionally, FSAE teams are a great marketing tool for attracting students to the engineering school – a successful team would make the engineering school stronger as a whole. But at the heart of it, the team wanted to “build a really fast car” and decided to go official with their project, forming Hilltop Motorsports.

With such an important and difficult task, the FSAE team leaders are looking for help. Grady Hurwitz admitted that “it’s a big goal, but don’t be intimidated. We are all students and just learning – we’re just learning through a racing team rather than a classroom.” Grady says that they are looking for “highly committed students” who can help the team and will welcome with gratitude “everyone who is driven and willing to learn.”

What are the chances of these students accomplishing their goal? When I asked them this, Ganeshan emphatically responded, “I am going to work as hard as I can to make it happen. I will finish it.”

“Failure is not an option for this team,” said Colton.

Look out for Hilltop Motorsports tearing around campus in their racecar next semester. Interested students can contact Grady Hurwitz (ghurwitz@smu.edu) to get involved.

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