Two seniors reflect on their final Grand Prix

Author: William Meiners
For 52 years now, the Purdue Grand Prix has been a rite of spring on the West Lafayette campus.

This past spring the event that’s been called “The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing” took place on a new track, as the old one is now under construction to make room for the renovation and
expansion of Mackey Arena. Sharper corners on the new track took the top speeds down from 60 to 50 miles per hour, but the crowd thrilled as the tiny karts buzzed their way through the race on a sunny April Saturday.

Among the competitors was a driver named Parker. Parker Brink, a mechanical engineering senior, on the brink of his May graduation, was part of the racing team sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Qualifying and lining up near the back of the pack, Brink said before the engines started that he just wanted to stay in the 160-lap race. “Anyone who can do that has a chance to win,” he said.

A collision around lap 20 made the glass of milk in victory lane a long shot, as Brink’s number 32 ride became entangled with another kart. “It took them a while to get the karts apart and get Parker sent back out,” says crew chief Zach Marvel, a mechanical engineering senior who plans on graduating in December 2009.

Marvel’s job was to make the kart as fast as possible for Brink, who eventually finished in 13th place. Roommates since their freshman year, Marvel and Brink share a passion for racing and cars. Marvel says he has a 1981 Camaro at home that he has long tooled around with, but imagines that his racing days are behind him now. Brink, however, who has accepted a job with Major Tool and Machine in Indianapolis, hopes that racing stays a part of his life. With sponsorships in hand, he would like to race in some of the kart series around Indianapolis.