Rebel Racing speeds into the new school year

Rebel Racing competing in the traction portion of the Louisville, Kentucky competition (courtesy Rebel Racing)

The UNLV Baja SAE club, commonly known as Rebel Racing, is a racing club where members build and race Baja cars in competitions all over the country. Led by President Juan Acosta and Project Manager Ashton Pearson, the club is a group dedicated to perfecting their craft. 

As the school year moves along, Rebel Racing has begun to organize for their competitions this year.

“We’re going to be going to Tennessee Tech, after that is the Rochester Institute of Technology and then it’s Arizona,” Pearson explained. 

These competitions consist of several events surrounding the design, capabilities and marketing of the Baja cars that each team builds. Each team is in charge of designing an entire car that can compete in a handful of difficult challenges against the other teams. 

“We start with static events [such as] design presentations and sales presentations,” Pearson said. “Then, [we have] dynamic events, which is a whole day dedicated to acceleration and maneuverability courses like a hill climb and a rock crawl. On the last day of competition, there is always a four-hour long endurance race.”  

Last year at the Arizona competition, the team finished second place out of 100 teams in the acceleration competition, a new best for the team. 

Heading into the new year, the Rebel Racers are working hard to keep that winning streak going. As a project manager, Pearson is in charge of organizing the team for build days and making sure everyone is doing what they need to. 

“I’m in the shop every single day,” Pearson said.

Pearson also said that as the project manager, he makes sure that everyone in the club learns the skills they need to be a good mechanic.

“We teach you absolutely everything,” Pearson said. “You don’t have to know how to turn a wrench because we’re going to teach you that. We’re open to any experience level and any major. All you have to do is have a passion to learn.”

Acosta also spoke to the skills learned in the club and how they help young engineers as they join the workforce. 

“This is teaching necessary engineering skills and practicality that most other engineers won’t get just by going to classes,” Acosta said. “We have a few members that are moving on to the Stewart Haas NASCAR Cup team.” 

Another facet of Rebel Racing is how it is not focused on just building Baja cars but also design and manufacturing. These other aspects allow for members to practice everyday business skills in a different setting than behind a desk.

“We teach the manufacturing side and members become plugins at whatever company [they] choose,” Acosta said. 

If you are interested in joining the Rebel Racers you can follow them on Instagram @unlvrebelracing or check them out at the UNLV Involvement center.


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