Racing toward the finish line: Longhorn Racing reveals competition vehicles

Natalie Venegas

Longhorn Racing revealed the three vehicles Saturday ­— one combustion, one electric and one solar — that they intend to compete with on the racetrack in a national competition this summer. 

Longhorn Racing, a UT organization made up of three teams corresponding to the three vehicles, designed and built the cars in an on-campus garage. They presented their 2019 Formula SAE and Formula Sun Grand Prix vehicles to students, faculty and corporate partners this weekend at their annual unveiling event. 

This year’s reveal was an important opportunity for the organization to not only showcase their three vehicles, but to highlight their improvement to the combustion vehicle, since last year’s vehicle was unable to compete, combustion team captain Michael Phan said.

“The car we are presenting was initially intended for the 2018 competition,” said Phan, a mechanical engineering senior, at the event. “But halfway through our manufacturing phase, we decided as a team not to partake in the competition due to some manufacturing difficulties.” 

Phan said for the past two years, Longhorn Racing has had two main goals in mind in order for the vehicle to compete — configurability and serviceability. 

“Serviceability was really important for us because of how many times we take things on and off the car while building it and maintaining it at the competition,” Phan said. “This was a huge factor for us, because we want it to be efficient.” 


Solar team captain Thiago de Sousa Burgani said his team also faced challenges while constructing their solar vehicle. 

“One of the biggest challenges every year is the knowledge gap,” said Burgani, a mechanical engineering junior. “Because even though our classes help us a lot in understanding engineering, there are still a lot of things that our classes don’t cover, that we have to cover on our own.” 

Despite difficulties, the solar team is continuing to race against time to take their vehicle to the July Circuit of the Americas competition in Austin. Solar team member Shania Safira said she is proud to see everything come together and is excited for the next part of her job with the array sub team, which ensures the vehicle is ready for the endurance part of the competition.

“This is the most rewarding thing ever because I feel I can apply all the knowledge that I am learning in the classroom to this,” said Safira, a mechanical engineering sophomore. “It’s amazing that we have put in so much work in the lab and finally seeing this happening gives me a sense of purpose, that there is something tangible to what I am doing.”