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'When life gives you lemons, you make a hot-rod': Texas A&M student group will build racecar for under $500

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 19:04:12-04

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Established in December 2021, Aggie Lemons Racing is a student-led organization focused on teaching the engineering aspect of vehicle mechanics and how to compete.

Alberto Valdes, a student at Texas A&M is the president who founded the racing club as a way to connect to the car community in College Station.

“I’m super excited, [Aggie Lemons Racing has] been growing a lot this past semester.” Said Valdes. “I’m a big car guy, this is just a dream come true for me basically.”

Valdes spent an entire year working non-stop to do all he could on campus to make the group an official Texas A&M student organization. In December 2021 after documents and safety contracts were approved by the University, Aggie Lemons Racing became an official student organization on campus.

So, what exactly is a lemon?

“A lemon car is a car that is basically worthless,” said Valdes. “[Lemon cars are] all the cars that compete in The 24 Hours of Lemons, similar to Le Mans [Racing], it’s 24 hours [usually in duration], but that’s the ones with the multimillion-dollar cars. [24 Hours of Lemons] is the one for us casual people.”

A member of Aggie Lemons, Ronald Batista said he has steadily seen this group of young motorheads grow into the double digits.

“Just being a part of this club, it was really cool. When I first started trying to get into the car community around here I didn’t know anybody," said Batista. “Just being a part of Aggie Lemons helped me build a friendship with everyone we work with.”

The Brazos Valley has some of the most decorated cars you could possibly lay your eyes on, even the ones that aren’t the most appealing.

Valdes said how Aggie Lemon Racing plans to turn a clunker into a hot rod ready for the track.

“We have a lot of work to do as you can see from the car, we still have to strip it and add a mic system [to the car],” said Valdes. “The seats [need to be replaced with bucket seats] and [add] safety components [like a] fire retardant system. This is going to be a lot of work we will be doing over the summer.”

David Beck, a member of the power train team, explains how the Aggie Lemons plan to save a few dollars in efforts of making this car.

“The interior of the car is gutted, that’s not only for weight savings, but it gives us a performance edge on the track," said Beck. “It also lets us sell those interior parts and recoups some of the money because the car does have to [be built for] $500 dollars or less. Anything we can sell, we use in the budget.”

Once all fixed up, Valdes’ team plans to take the lemon car to compete in an endurance race later in November called The 24 Hours of Lemons, with some roadblocks in the way financially, he hopes the organization can gain more sponsors in time to make this happen.

“The first year [working with a new organization] is always the hardest, especially with money," said Valdes. “Racing seats cost like a thousand dollars each, a steering wheel costs $800 – you wouldn’t believe it, and just full tracksuits. We are going to have 4 drivers and 4 pit crew members, everyone needs to be suited up for fireproof suits, that’s about $700 a person.”

It’s still a long road ahead for the Aggie Lemons Race team to fix their vehicle in time for November.

One of the race rules is the car has to be fixed for under $500 and that does not include team gear, entry fees for their team, and memberships for each driver.

If you’d like to help sponsor this team of Aggies a link to their website and social media are provided below:

https://linktr.ee/aggieLemons