A Great Finish Indicates a Great Beginning

Author: K.S.
Rookie driver Will Taber races into sixth place in ChE's first Grand Prix

For years in the Taber household, Sunday mornings meant race day. Will Taber and his father would sit on their couch and cheer as the number 3 on Dale Earnhardt’s car whisked by on screen. After years of being an avid race fan, Taber finally had the opportunity to compete as a senior in Chemical Engineering’s first Grand Prix appearance. Taber placed sixth in this year’s race, winning the Rookie of the Year award!

Will Taber (BS 2008) is now working for Shell Oil in Deer Park, Texas

The AIChE go-cart, emblazoned with Earnhardt’s number 3, which Taber got special permission to use, raced at speeds over 60 mph. “It was a great honor but I never expected to do so well,” he says. “I was just trying to qualify.”

Taber credits his good friend and fellow chemical engineering senior, Dan Logsdon, for the reason he was able to race. “Dan got it approved by the board and got all of the funding in place for this to be possible. It was his brainchild.”  Sponsors included Celanese, LyondellBasell, Chevron Phillips, Cargill, and Raydar and Associates.

Taber and Logsdon, with the help of 12 other AIChE teammates, built the cart from the ground up. “It was definitely a challenge getting all the parts in and figuring out how to make it fast, but in the end it all came together,” explains Logsdon.

Even though Logsdon and Taber graduated this spring, they plan on making themselves available to teams in the future. “Although we did really well, there were a lot of problems we faced since this was our first year on the track,” says Taber.

A few minor mistakes aside, there is no doubt that the standard was set very high this year by the rookie driver and his team. This is not the last you will see of Taber.  “I caught the bug,” he says, grinning. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had and I would definitely like to do more racing in the future.”