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Carolina Cars club brings together UNC's car enthusiasts

UNC junior and Carolina Car Club president Sachith Iyengar poses with his Acura at Umstead Park on Nov. 17.

When the fall semester began, students may have been surprised to find two cars parked in The Pit. 

The Honda Civic Type R and BMW M4 were brought in to promote Carolina Cars, a student organization for car enthusiasts on campus.

"I remember one of the Carolina Union officers said they’d never seen anything like it in 20 years of working there,” senior and club co-founder Max Nuñez said. "I think we had like 30 or 40 members that are active join in a couple hours.”

Nuñez, who is from Morrisville, said he loved attending local car meets in high school but was disappointed to find there wasn’t a car club at UNC his first year. He decided to start Carolina Cars to bring those meets to UNC.

The car meets are usually held on top of the School of Business Parking Deck, where members are encouraged to bring their cars and browse each others’ vehicles, Nuñez said. However, the meets are also open to those who don't have their own car.

“The majority of what we do at car meets is just get together and talk,” Nuñez said. “It’s really about trying to make a community of people that are into cars, not necessarily have a car.”

Harrington Shaw, a sophomore who is a member of the club, said he enjoys the social aspect of the meets.

“There’s usually some new people that show up that you get to interact with, and then we all get to go for a drive, which is one of my favorite things to do to get away from the school stuff,” Shaw said. “It’s a great way for car enthusiasts to get together with some like-minded people and blow off some steam after school.”

The club hosts events over the course of the semester, including cruises where club members drive around Chapel Hill and watch parties for professional F1 car races.

“We like to host events where we hang out and meet each other and discuss events that are happening in the motorsports world,” junior Sachith Iyengar, the club's president, said.

Members of the club also travel to auto events outside of Chapel Hill, including monthly "Cars and Coffee" meets, which attract auto enthusiasts from across the state.

Monica Rivell, the club’s social chairperson, said she was a frequent "Cars and Coffee" attendee before she joined the club. She was happy to find a group of UNC students to attend the event with.

“I enjoy having people to go with up here — we usually go as a club,” Rivell said. “Afterwards, we’ll get brunch and cruise back to UNC.”

The club also works on project cars in the hopes of restoring them to working condition. The club's first project car was a 1998 Ford Mustang, which a club member donated last year, Nuñez said. 

Nuñez said the club rented a storage unit in Cary to house the car and worked on it during Winter Break.

“What that allowed us to do is diagnose the problem together, and we wanted to fix this car and enter it into some type of event,” Iyengar said.

In the end, the club wasn't able to fully restore the vehicle to working condition and eventually donated it to Kars4Kids, Iyengar said. However, the club recently acquired another car — a 1973 Triumph Stag — which Iyengar is hoping to enter into a competition.

The club plans to connect with local motorsports organizations and sell merchandise to raise funds to fix the car, Iyengar said. So far, the club has ordered new brakes and rotors for the car and plans to begin working on them over Winter Break.

Students interested in joining Carolina Cars can find more information on their website.

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