A community for car lovers

25 Feb 2019

By Krishveen Kaur

From left: Jonathan Oon, 24; Michelle Ong, 21; Yeo Swee Guan, 22; Ng Fu Dian, 26; Benjamin Teng, 23, are members of the NTU Motoring Club. The club organises car meets every semester. PHOTOS: JOEL CHAN

The NTU Motoring Club (NMC) was launched in 2001, to bring together students from diverse backgrounds with a keen interest in cars.

“There is no requirement to own a car to join this club. Most of us drive our parents’ cars and have minimal upgrades on it. We are not a car racing club, but just a club for car lovers to meet and talk for hours,” said Yeo Swee Guan, 23, the president of the NMC and a second-year student from the School of Social Sciences.

“We have roughly 200 participants, and some are more experienced with car parts than others.

“When a member needs help with their car, there is always someone in our group chat with the knowledge on particular car models or car parts. They can then recommend reputable car workshops,” said Benjamin Teng, 23, the vice president of the NMC.

Semester car meets

NMC’s car meets are held once every semester.

These meets are informal gatherings organised by members of the club.

They are nothing like scenes from The Fast and the Furious movies though, Yeo quipped.

“We just gather somewhere with free parking, such as school, order some pizzas and open up our carhoods for others to see. We get alumni members joining us as well.

They are usually the ones with the nice cars,” he added.

The most recent car meet was last December, where the club arranged an informal gathering with the motoring club from National University of Singapore (NUS).

“At the meet, we found out that some members used DIY (do-it-yourself) body kits from Taobao to modify their cars’ bumpers and spoilers.

“These cost half the price car workshops charge,” said Teng, a second-year student from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Members often discuss their car modifications during car meets. An example of a modification would be the closed air intake system which improves the car engine’s performance.

“We also had non-NTU drivers parking their cars next to ours and chatting with us about our cars. It’s very easy to make friends once you have a common interest.

We will probably be organising another meet after finals this semester. Hopefully more members will be free by then to join us,” Teng added.

Opportunities to go-kart

Besides car meets, members in the club also organise self-initiated motorsports events such as karting.

“Some of our members found a common interest in karting. So this is one of the activities that they do on the side.

Since we can’t race with our cars in Singapore, the next best thing is go-kart racing” Yeo said.

In September 2017, 20 NMC members took part in a karting competition held at the Permas Go-Kart Club in Johor Bahru together, competing against members from the NUS motoring club and drivers from the Asian Touring Car Series.

One of the NMC teams came in third place and received a trophy and a $100 token – despite having little prior experience in karting.

Michelle Ong, 22, a second-year student from the School of Social Sciences joined the competition only because she had been intrigued by Formula One racing competitions since a young age; she joined the NTU Motoring Club in her freshman year.

“(The competition) was quite stressful. We had to strategise and plan because we had to fill in our own fuel after every round.

I drove slower than the guys as it made me feel safer,” said Ong, who was one of the two girls from NTU who took part in the competition.

“The NUS people even had their own motoring jumpsuit, while those from NMC wore t-shirts and jeans, but we did pretty well,” she added.

Despite the club having just 20 girls, Ong says she does not feel excluded when talking about cars during club meetings.

“During the car meets, even though I didn’t know much about the workings of the car itself, I enjoyed talking about other topics like the current pricing of the cars and COEs,” added Ong.

Ong was one of the two girls from NTU who participated in a go-kart competition in Johor Bahru last year.

Workshops and more

Providing informative workshops on the mechanics behind cars is an important part of the official events held by the club.

Due to the support from motoring companies, the club has managed to organise workshops on everything from car tyres and suspensions, to the different kinds of motoring oils used in cars.

Will Heng, 25, a final-year student from Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, recalled a workshop he attended last year with the club, sponsored by a car repair and maintenance shop.

“The sponsors brought in speakers from different automotive companies, such as Liqui Moly and Bosch, who are well known automotive companies.

“I liked how they taught us about things to look out for in order to differentiate between a good car maintenance job and an excellent one,” said Heng, who was the former president of NMC.

Heng is looking forward to an upcoming workshop by Bridgestone Tyres, one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturing companies.

“Their goal is to educate people on how tyres work and find out about which tyres suit your car best,” Heng said.

The event is sponsored by a company called Edutorque and will be held at Valley Point on 26 Feb.

Although taking part in any form of car racing is strictly prohibited under the rules and regulations of the club, members have found a way to channel their inner racers through ad hoc events such as simulation racing.

Members from the NTU and NUS motoring clubs recently gathered at the simulation racing centre in September last year.

“It’s like racing games, but on a more realistic level as you have to accelerate and brake like in real-world scenarios.

“We had an informal gathering at the simulation racing centre in Singapore, where fifty cockpits were set up together so that everyone could drive at the same time,” said Teng, whose interest in cars stemmed from a simulation racing set he bought online when he was younger.

“I’m quite happy to say that among the grassroots, many motoring businesses know who we are and I think it is very important because entry to these kinds of stuff in Singapore is expensive,” said Yeo.

Besides simulation racing, the members have also put their motoring skills to other uses.

In January last year, the NMC collaborated with the School of Humanities (SoH) club and Bukit Batok Secondary School to organise a charity initiative called Project MI.

20,000 kilograms of rice were collected by students from Bukit Batok Secondary School from families in Bukit Batok, Yeo said.

NMC then helped to distribute them to charities such as Willing Hearts, Lotus Light and one-room residents in the neighbourhood, Yeo added.

Six members participated in this initiative again in January this year.

“Driving as always been enjoyable for us, but to drive with the end goal of making sure people get food to eat, was quite different in a great way,” said Heng, who was one of the participants of the charity drive.

People matter most

One recent member-initiated event that the club held was a trip to the AutoBahn Motors building or better known as a “super car vending machine” among members in the club, as mentioned by Teng.

“It’s a second-hand dealer who stores the cars in a multi-storey automated car park. Some of the cars there are one of just fifty in the world.

“One of our members had made contact with the boss of this company and asked if they were willing to let us have a tour,” said Teng.

Yeo said that the club prides itself in allowing members to initiate events through networking.

“Most relations are informal. It’s the relationships formed between members that make the club what it is.

Members are not limited by strict rules and some of our members have even initiated drives to Malaysia,” the 23-year-old added.

Exchange students are also welcomed to join the club.

“There is a lot of cross cultural exchange going on. We even have exchange students who are very fascinated with our Singaporean motoring culture because they have racing teams in their own school motoring clubs.

“We focus on other things besides racing in ours,” said Yeo, who made friends with a German student pursuing his masters at NTU and will be visiting him in Germany next semester.

For this club, relationships built among students who are car lovers remain the ultimate goal, said Teng.

“I think being in this club made me realise that car lovers are multifaceted.

“We can be car lovers without adhering to the negative stereotypes that society places on us, like being rowdy and brash,” added Heng.

Kelvin Aw, 24, drives a vintage BMW e34 520 that was built in 1991. His father used to own a car of the same model.