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Passion for Cars Fuels New Student Group The Drivers Club

Drivers Club

Members of The Drivers Club typically meet at area restaurants on Fridays to admire their vehicles and socialize. (Photos by Danny Lopez)

Business administration senior Chris Thomas has loved cars since he was a preschooler.

He grew up playing with “boxes and boxes” of Matchbox cars and remote-controlled vehicles. Later on, Thomas loved watching The Fast and the Furious action movies about street racing. His uncle, who has owned 49 cars since 2000, was a big influence.

“We always went to the racetrack at Motorsports Ranch, a road course near Granbury where Porsche and Lamborghini hold events,” Thomas said. “We’d go to all the car shows.”

When Thomas transferred to UT Dallas, he linked up with friends who shared a passion for cars. Together they brainstormed about starting a club of their own.

They printed cards with information on a Facebook page they launched and started putting them on windshields of vehicles they liked on campus: maybe one that had been customized or had a unique paint job or was vintage.

“We’d notice certain wheels, or maybe a different exhaust system. Some cars had been lowered or had different body parts. Or we’d see an old ’70s car, done up. You could tell that person was into cars,” Thomas said.

Kennay Pham and the Drivers Club

The Drivers Club member Kennay Pham (left) hangs out at a local meet in Plano.

After they had gathered enough interest, they approached the University, found an advisor and formally organized this summer. The Drivers Club now has about 60 like-minded members on campus with some 400 members on Facebook, which also includes friends of students. Members must now be invited to join the Facebook group.

“It just blew up through word-of-mouth,” Thomas said. “We really gained people on social media.”

Club advisor Paul Smith, parking and transportation manager at UT Dallas, said enthusiasm is growing for the club.

“For many years, we have had driving enthusiasts groups at UT Dallas, but never formally created a club. There is enough interest now for The Drivers Club to be a very successful organization,” said Smith, an avid sports car owner who has two Corvettes.

Students don’t have to drive their ideal car to join. They just have to appreciate a great set of wheels. Most undergraduates, after all, don’t have the means to buy their dream car and instead get by with a basic set of wheels while they’re in school, Thomas said.

“We’re college kids — it’s going to happen. We don’t judge,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t matter what you drive. We just share a passion for cars, trucks, automobiles in general.”

Drivers Club

Students don’t have to drive their ideal car to join. They just have to appreciate a great set of wheels.

The club organizes “meets” at area restaurants, often on a Friday evening, where members can hang out and talk about their shared interest. Club officers have come up with a code of conduct for these gatherings: no revving your engines, no burnouts, no speeding and pick up your trash.

“Basically we want members to be nice to the community they’re in,” Thomas said.

The officers plan to hold workshops offering auto basics — how to change a tire or change the oil. They hope to have guest speakers from auto companies or race teams visit the club, and maybe host drive-in movie nights.

But mostly, they want to provide a place where car aficionados at UT Dallas can connect.

Thomas will graduate in December, and aspires to be a chief operating officer someday to fund his car hobbies. He drives a Scion FR-S — which he calls “an affordable sports car" — but dreams of one day owning a classic white BMW E30 M3 or a luxury car like a silver Lexus LFA.  

“Classic cars are fun, and higher-end stuff is nice, too,” he said. “It’s a mode of transportation, but it’s an art form, too. It shows who you are as a person, especially when you customize it for performance. I like just pushing the limits of what a car can do.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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