UNLV Car Club: Under new management

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UNLV Car Club President, Seth Matteson next to his 2007 Saturn Ion. (Ian Cruz)

The executive board of the UNLV Car Club graduated, leaving one man in charge to run it all.

Current president Seth Matteson has big plans for the UNLV Car Club. His primary goal is to carry forward the traditions and values that have melted to the club’s core like oil to a driveway. Left with connections from the old executive board, Matteson has collaborated with car clubs such as Team Tekito, Yakuza Syndicate, and Speed Tribe Sakura for a couple of car meets in August. Matteson plans to throw barbecues, club cruises, Fast & Furious movie nights, Halloween Trunk or Treats and club dinners. He wants to create a space for car lovers to make lasting connections with one another.

“The whole mission is to integrate students with culture on and off campus,” Matteson said. “Joining the club gives people an opportunity to find friends that like cars and allows them to see things that maybe they’ve never seen before and explore a side of Vegas they’ve never known. Despite the fact that UNLV is very diverse, it’s hard to find friends for some reason. People go to class and dip. The club serves to bring people together and to make friendships that last.”

Earlier this year, Matteson and other members of the community, such as Dynamic Evolution Auto Club, Mazda Las Vegas, Afterlife Boba and Car Girls of LV, were part of a pet food and supply drive for the Henderson Animal Shelter. Cars N’ Pets brought the community together to supply the shelter with pet foods, blankets, towels, leashes, dog treats and more. Since the event was also a car meet, furry friends roamed the aisles of cars alongside their owners.

The car scene in Las Vegas relies on community support. Matteson is aware that student involvement and engagement are key to throwing successful club events. With his shifting schedule, he knows communicating with all the members of the club at once can be difficult. 

Some car clubs have walkie-talkies, but the UNLV Car Club has Discord. The UNLV Car Club Discord server is an online hub where members can find upcoming meets, vote for future hangouts and talk about all things cars. Recently, Matteson has been chatting with club members about what wheels to get on his 2007 Saturn Ion. Members have been especially helpful in helping him choose the right ones. Due to members’ limited availability and schedules, Discord serves as its own club space for members to get together and chat about anything and everything. Discord allows for text chats and audio and video calls, so the means of collaboration and communication keep the club alive.

Although the Car Club has remained somewhat steady in its efforts to recruit new members, its challenges are keeping its presence known and having enough team members to divert responsibilities. Sunny Gittens, UNLV Executive Director of Student Engagement, said that successful clubs are ones that students already know about.

“For new student organizations, the key to success is to market your existence on campus, which truthfully can be challenging. When we ask students about involvement and how they got involved, about 50% of the students that are involved tell us they knew they wanted to get involved when they came to campus. They researched all of the options, found something and got involved,” Gittens said. “The other 50% of students that are involved tell us they stumbled upon it. A lot of times, they spent their first couple of years going to class and going home. Sometimes, those students end up being the most involved leaders. Word of mouth is the biggest thing.”

Currently, Matteson is the only executive board member, and being the president, social media manager, and event planner is no easy task. He plans to hold elections next semester to bring on the much-needed help.

He wants to increase the club’s presence on campus by participating in club fairs and increasing tabling activity. He wants to park a club car on campus next to a table to recruit more members. Gittens mentioned tabling was a great way for clubs to market themselves, either in the Free Speech Space or the Amphitheater.

Plans for the club align with doing more of what they have been already doing, such as throwing collaboration meets, private club events, and possible fundraiser and charity events. The club seeks to bring people together in any capacity, whether it be community members, other car clubs or UNLV students. Community and involvement are the key to the club’s success, and Matteson seeks to take the club to new heights until he graduates.

Although the club is under new management, UNLV alumni are still able to be a part of the club and are welcome to participate in club activities. With 16 currently active members in their roster of 30, the club seeks to increase its numbers and activities for semesters to come. They welcome any make, model and year of car, even accepting members who don’t have cars. If UNLV students have any interest in learning about, talking about or appreciating cars, then the UNLV Car Club is the place for it.

“We wanna do things like charity events that are oriented to help out other people,” Matteson said. “Even if they don’t like cars, they should care because we are willing to help people and want to make a difference. We aren’t here for ourselves, and people should care because we care about making the community a better place.”

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