Need for speed

Publication Date

We’d long had a suspicion that a number of readers of the magazine are fascinated with things that go fast; classnotes entries were full of fast cars, airplanes and the like.

Photo shows a race car

But nothing could have prepared us for the outpouring after we put out the call in the last issue (The Need for Speed). Dozens were eager to tell of their avocations – and vocations – that fulfill their need for speed.

Predictably, perhaps, many of the responses came from car enthusiasts. (Interestingly, we discovered a community of alumni who are connected through cars and racing.) Others told of their airborne hobbies. Some described cameras. Here on campus, students and faculty described scientific instruments, improved processes and computers.

Alas, there were too many to share on the printed page. So, we’re offering more here on the web with links to photos and videos.

Ed Capullo ’64

Ed Capullo’s 50-year racing career started with illegal street racing and progressed through dragsters, stock cars, sports cars and eventually open wheelers. Along the way, he collected a number of wins, including titles at the U.S. National Drag Racing Championships in 1970, the North Atlantic Road Racing Championship Series in 1986 and 87, and five straight NARRC championships (2006-10). At age 70, after the 2012 season, he retired from racing but plans to stay active helping other racers. “I have met some wonderful people in the sport, some famous and some not-so-famous, and I feel I have a broad background in the sport,” he said. “It has been, and will continue being, fun.”

Aaron Ambrosino ’93

Like his father before him, Aaron Ambrosino is a Porsche guy. A 23-year member of the Porsche Club of America and past president (among many other positions) of the PCA’s Hudson Champlain Regional chapter, there’s no mistaking his passion for the German sports cars. He coordinates a street survival school for young drivers at events around the country. He has been an instructor at high-performance driving events for more than a dozen years. Since 1996, he has competed in local and regional autocross events, and for the last seven has been an autocross instructor. Last year, he had the honor of coaching Hans-Peter Porsche, a member of the founder’s family, at an event in Salt Lake City.

David Kohl ’91

“Leaping off the runway in the cold of winter is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can imagine,” says David Kohl ’91, who took up flying a decade ago. He flies out of the Westchester County Airport and belongs to a club that has two Beechcraft Bonanzas that fly a little over 200 mph. Besides frequent missions for “$100 hamburgers,” he has been known to make annual flights to Schenectady and to give sightseeing rides to AEPi brothers. He also flies to hotspots like Montauk, Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

SAE Human-Powered Vehicle

The Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge is an opportunity for engineering students to demonstrate application of sound engineering principles toward the development of fast, efficient, sustainable and practical human powered-vehicles. In April, at the event at Ferris State University, Union’s team took 15th place in the endurance competition, seventh in the women’s drag race. Team advisor is Prof. Ashok Ramasubramanian.

SAE Baja Car

Each year, Union’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Baja team competes against other top engineering students from around the world to design, build and race a small but rugged off-road vehicle. At the Steinmetz Symposium in May, Dave Carabis ’13, Dan Wolfe ’14 and Tom Swanton ’13 exhibited the Baja Car as it was nearing completion.

Eric Jacobs ’05

Eric Jacobs ’05 grew up working on cars with his father. He came to Union with a Shelby Cobra kit car and made arrangements to store it in Dean McEvoy’s garage. So, naturally, after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, he would build a kit car with his father. Then, he joined the company that produced the kit, Factory Five Racing, as a research and development engineer. The job was made possible, in part, by an internship he did between junior and senior years with the Cobra company. His passion for cars is on hold while he attends dental school at the University of Connecticut.

Jeremy Hasbrouck ’01

Jeremy Hasbrouck developed his passion for racing at a young age, thanks to his father, who worked and raced at a Guilderland track and loved all manner of racing from DIRT to Nascar to Indy. For Jeremy, that passion took form in 1999 when he joined Union’s Formula SAE team, which produced the “zebra” car still in use today. Several years ago, he was introduced to a Brunswick, Maine ice-racing club by fellow alumnus Steve Reeps. Each winter, members of the New Meadows Ice Racing Association (NMIRA), take to the frozen lakes of Maine with studded tires. “This is real side by side, five-point harness and helmet racing,” Hasbrouck says. “We all have great fun and enjoy the opportunity to feed our addiction to speed.” Hasbrouck, who won the street stock division a few years ago, always looks forward to “another great season of studs on ice.” Check out NIMRA's Facebook page.

Alan Maddaus ’67

Interested in fast cars since high school, Alan writes, “My original career objective after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering was to work for General Motors, Chevrolet Division. Somehow after graduate school my career path was diverted to turbomachinery. But, at the age of 45, I finally found myself in a financial position to indulge without pangs of guilt. My first acquisition was a blue 1977 Corvette.” He has since added a 1988 Corvette. He keeps both Vettes, along with an 1989 Audi 100, in a barn at his home in Cape Neddick, Maine.

Elliot Seguin ’06

As a project engineer and flight tester for Scaled Composites in California’s Mojave Desert has the enviable job of designing, building and testing aircraft for one of the world’s most innovative aerospace firms. “I like to touch all the different parts that go into making and testing an airplane,” he said. “It’s the design-build-test cycle that is what engineering is to me that we get to do out here with airplanes. There’s no other place on the planet where you can do that with airplanes.” Click here to watch a video featuring Elliot.

Steve Myers ’78

Steve Myers, who always had a passion for cars and motorsports, worked in a pit crew while earning his BSME in the early 80’s (his second degree) and did some racing schools. But with the expense, he gave it up. Almost two decades later, while he was working as a programming manager at Tenneco Automotive, another employee invited him to the track for some racing. “That experience rekindled my desire get into racing and I started helping him out with his car,” Myers said. “One thing led to another and pretty soon we were partners in a car that I was driving myself.” Now with his own car, he has been racing the last 10 years in his own formula road racing car on tracks throughout the Midwest. “I’ve had a lot for fun and enjoyed some success, having won races and regional championships,” he said. “Probably the highlight of my career has been winning my class at the American Road Race of Champions in 2009.”

Mike Samuel ’92

Mike Samuel’s pro-touring restoration of his father’s (now his) 1966 Corvette Coupe is essentially complete. The car had been stored since 1977 until his father agreed two years ago to turn the restoration over to Mike. After extensive research, Mike found the people to help. The result is something more than a 1966 Corvette. “My intent was to blend classic, hot rod elements with contemporary technology and amenities to create a fun street car,” he said. Done.

Norm Lavery ’62

Norm Lavery drives a 1982 Porsche 924, the same car that won the IGT class “24 hours of Le Mans” that year. “Although I don’t race my 924, I do enjoy driving it fast and smoothly on the winding mountain roads here in Montana,” he says. “My wife calls the car ‘my mistress’ and I constantly remind her that it is the least expensive mistress any guy could ever have.”

Scott Klion ’79

Since 1986, Scott Klion has collected some enviable specimens: a 1971 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV, a 1964 Jaguar E-Type, and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE. The Ferrari, a rare model, recently appeared as the cover story in a special interest magazine devoted to the hobby. And he sold a previous car in less than a week through a video he produced. It has received over 19,000 views.

While he does not drive his cars competitively, he has gone to race car driving school. He also host tours for various car clubs during which he has been known to "exercise" the subject vehicle when conditions permit. Not an expert mechanic, “I do maintain and repair all of my cars to the fullest extent of my abilities, tools and time,” he said. “As I like to tell my friends, my skill set ends where the inside of the engine begins.”As for getting his speed fix, he does that on two wheels. He has been a bicycle racer for the past 16 years.


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