North Carolina A&T State University Teams with ChevronTexaco to increase minority opportunities in motorsports. Greensboro, NC: An emerging collegiate motorsports program at North Carolina A&T State University, a historically black university,...
North Carolina A&T State University Teams with ChevronTexaco to increase minority opportunities in motorsports.
Greensboro, NC: An emerging collegiate motorsports program at North Carolina A&T State University, a historically black university, is exposing minority students to professional opportunities in auto racing, from driving to design.
With the help of ChevronTexaco, NC A&T students participate in annual design competitions and a collegiate racing series. In addition, ChevronTexaco provides scholarship money for students with demonstrated aptitude and interest in motorsports, and has created a summer internship opportunity with the Robert Yates Racing team. Robert Yates Racing fields the Havoline #28 car driven by Ricky Rudd in the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit.
Russell Williams, 20, is this year's NC A&T intern with the Robert Yates Racing team. During his internship at the North Carolina-based raceshop Williams has been learning valuable skills and will be traveling with the team to the New England 300 in Loudon July 21 and the Pennsylvania 500 in Pocono July 28.
Williams, a junior from Durham, NC, is considering a career in motorsports, but also believes that his experience will prepare him for a variety of careers in mechanical engineering, his major course of study at NC A&T.
Under the direction of Hoyt Overbagh, the lead team engineer, Williams has been learning the intricacies of racing at the Winston Cup level. "It's always great to have an extra pair of hands to tie up the loose ends, but with Russell it's more than that. His positive attitude and fresh ideas have really assisted the entire engineering crew."
"I have been involved in a lot of the hands-on work in the raceshop," said Williams, who, for the summer, has the title of intern engineer with the Yates team. "From fabrication and measurements to race set-ups, the internship gives me an opportunity to be involved."
Last summer, another young engineer from NC A&T worked at Robert Yates Racing. Justin Blackwell, a May 2002 NC A&T graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, spent his internship developing a measuring device to help the team maintain consistency among its cars. He is currently interviewing with automotive manufacturers for engineering positions and hopes to get back into racing as his career progresses.
Both Williams and Blackwell were part of NC A&T's Intercollegiate Auto Racing Association (ICAR) team. The ICAR series, which includes five other Southeastern universities, features racing among students in Legends cars that students design and build. NC A&T's Legends car was donated by ChevronTexaco and features a similar paint scheme as the famed #28.
Participation in NC A&T's ICAR team is limited to engineering students who commit to working on the cars throughout the six-month season. Students must spend months working on the car before getting behind the wheel as a driver.
Many of these same students also participate in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula Racing design competition. In this competition, students design, fabricate, and compete with small formula-style race cars. Restrictions are placed on the car frame and engine so the students' knowledge, creativity and imagination are tested.
Dr. David Klett, an NC A&T mechanical engineering professor and advisor of NC A&T's racing program, along with ChevronTexaco select a student from these racing teams each year to participate in the Robert Yates Racing internship.
"We hope to introduce young minority students to potential careers in auto racing," said Klett. "By participating in our program, they get to experience many aspects of racing, from the long hours in the shop to driving in an actual competition. If they have the drive and determination, there's no telling how far they can go in motorsports."
With an enrollment of more than 8,300, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, located in Greensboro, NC, produces more African American engineers than any other university in the country. Graduates of North Carolina A&T, including the late astronaut Dr. Ron McNair and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, have played significant roles in North Carolina and the nation since the university's founding in 1891.