NovaRacing Revs it Up for the Philadelphia Auto Show



Jack Hilliard


The NovaRacing team will be taking its year-long project to the Philadelphia Auto Show on Saturday, January 31 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The project, a racing car built and designed completely by the team, will be on display for the nine day event that is typically attended by more than 200,000 people. Although the Auto Show is not the main event of the year for the team, it is still seen as a great opportunity for the community to learn more about formula racing. 

In the past, the team has only had one event, the Formula SAE competition held at the Michigan International Speedway in May. This year, however, the opportunity was presented to showcase the car in a second prestigious event.

“It’s just a good way to showcase the car. Get our name out there, but more importantly get Formula’s name out there,” Albert Montemuro, captain of the team, said.

Many students have seen the team’s car on display when passing through the lobby of CEER, but it is much more than “the go-kart,” as it is often labeled. With speeds capping off at over 100 mph and acceleration forces at the same level as production cars, this car truly belongs at the racetrack rather than at a local amusement park. 

The extensive construction project began in the fall with thorough research and design on computer systems. Once digital testing is complete, the manufacturing of the car begins around October. The car may have tested perfectly in the early stages, but the manufacturing process does not always guarentee a smooth ride.

Although the 25 member team meets weekly, the garage is hardly ever empty, as a diligent student can always be found working to solve design obstacles. Often compared to a full-time job, the process of building a car requires the members to learn as they go and be patient during the trial-and-error construction.

“This really becomes everyone’s passion, really an obsession,” Montemuro said. “We all love cars to some extent, but no one joined the team an expert. We all came in fresh and we teach the new generation all the skills that we’ve learned. It’s really a non-curriculum based educational experience.”

After months of preparation, the team sets a hard deadline to have the car fully completed and set to race by Jan. 31 to be ready for the competition in May. 

From the January deadline, the team tests the car and members practice driving behind the wheel, in order to select a team member  to man the wheel during the race.

The entire event consists of four capability tests, including a straight line test, a skid pad, an autocross course and an endurance course. In addition to performance tests, team members pitch a business proposition to investors that includes a design presentation and price breakdown.

The price to produce the car is typically around $55,000 and half of the costs are covered by the College of Engineering. The remaining half of the team looks for sponsors such as Ford Motor Company and McCarthy Tire and Automotive Center to help reach the goal. The upcoming auto show gives the team an additional chance to add sponsors for the first time. This fundraising is integral to the team’s success as it allows the group to participate in such competitions.

“Hopefully we can talk to some people at the auto show and maybe receive some sponsorships,” Montemuro said. 

Not only does the team offer members a direct opportunity to learn about the car business and construction, it also provides an experience marketable to employers.

“There are some companies that look at kids just from formula to hire,” Montemuro said.  “Companies like Ford and Honda make it a priority. The word is getting out there that this is a legitimate way to get hands on knowledge.”

The experience on the team can jumpstart many members’ futures,.However, for now they’re just enjoying the ride to one of the largest auto shows in the country. On January 30, the team will attend a black tie gala to kick off the show, and will showcase their year-long project to thousands.

“We have complete freedom with this car,” Montemuro said. “And that’s the beauty of it. Every year we start with nothing and we develop this concept of a car, spend four months designing and building, four months testing it, and then we go to competition. Going to car shows is cool, but it’s so much cooler when one of the cars there is your car. It’s like a dream for all of us.”