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Racing Enthusiasts Find Home in Automotive Society

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. The Harvard Automotive Society and Racing Team is now officially recognized as a club sport.

Some of the club’s 94 members will be whizzing around a track at F1 Boston tomorrow in state-of-the art 150cc go-karts at speeds over 40mph.

The long-term vision includes pit crews, flame-retardant crimson jump suits and four-hour endurance midget races.

Chris Sully ’05, who founded and heads the group, began networking with fellow automotive enthusiasts last year.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for students interested in car racing to get involved in entry-level racing that is well-supervised and relatively safe,” he said.

A dedicated group of five started meeting in a sports bar in the Boston’s North End at the end of last year.

“We used to meet to watch Formula One races, and from there we got the idea to start a club for the like-minded,” founding member Kirill Babikov ’05 said.

“I did a lot of team racing back home in Uzbekistan, and I was surprised to find that go-kart racing wasn’t popular among college kids in the States.”

In Uzbekistan, Kirill said, he and nearly all of his friends belonged to leagues and built and raced their own go-karts.

Before Commencement, they contacted Director of Intramurals and Recreation John Wentzell about the possibility of starting a student group.

“I just wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to be doing this in the street,” Wentzell said.

He approved the club on Oct. 2.

This fall they advertised the club by sending e-mails through House lists, which were then forwarded to friends and other lists throughout the College.

Their first race is planned for tomorrow at F1 Boston in Braintree, a newly-revamped racing facility with three tracks, a lounge and a cafe.

For Sully, this is just the beginning. The next step is to join a racing league.

“It’s a lot cheaper to race in a league, and although we receive funding each year from the club sport office, it won’t be enough to cover all our costs, so we have to be creative about fundraising,” Sully said.

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