NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Engineering the future of motorsports

The Southern California section of SAE brought together hundreds of engineering students, in a shrine built to hot rodding and racing.
23 Oct 2023
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Engineering the future of motorsports

Engineering is the business of finding solutions to challenging problems while working within constraints. When the key constraint is time, every solution found becomes even more valuable.

As a racer, that probably sounds quite familiar.

For more than 100 years, motorsports have been the engine of quickening the pace of engineering. Defeating time, that critical constraint that applies in every winner's circle, in every industry, and in every field is tough to teach in the classroom. Yet the world of motorsports focuses the best of our energies and skills to produce systems, products, and solutions that do just that—faster than anything else. 

Knowing that the world of racing benefits all engineering fields, SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) has evolved during the last 100 years to foster engineers' success through motorsports-based competitions. SAE programs like those known as Formula SAE, Baja SAE Aero Design.

Sections of students made up from different engineering schools from all over the country compete against each other, but they also come together to collaborate, and in October 2023, they gathered at the  Lions Automobilia Foundation in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., to hear presentations from SEMA, PRI, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Adams Motorsports Park, NASCAR, and Vital Link.


During the event, David Kennedy, NHRA's Director of Multimedia and Contingency, spoke about the connection of motorsports and engineering in the context of the hosting museum's drag racing examples. He reflected on how drag racing and hot rodding techniques literally accelerated product development which could the be refined through engineering practices. Kennedy's hope was to build a path for future engineers to find their way into motorsports while also inspiring new minds to find new solutions for the future of the sport. Kennedy has offered to make himself available to mentor any engineering student interested in a career in motorsports via email at dkennedy@NHRA.com.

Interested in how you can accelerate your engineering education through motorsports, contact your local section of SAE.