Julia Lacasse was bitten by the motorsport bug early, decided to pursue it as a career and is now leading a team that’s developing an EV Formula 1-style racing car.
The graduate of South Delta Secondary is on a student team that every year makes a race car from scratch to show off their automotive engineering skills and to enter into international competition.
Last year, the OK Motorsports team, based at UBC’s Okanagan campus, finished 36th out of 120 teams in the Formula SAE competition in Michigan, and placed fourth out of the Canadian teams that were competing.
The team is skipping the 2024 competition so it can switch gears from its MK iV internal combustion-powered model and develop a Formula student electric race car.
“This year and next, we are attempting to build our first electric car, but we are heavily restricted by funding, and we are asking for a bit of help from communities to support this project,” said Lacasse.
OK Motorsports is trying to raise money to buy a test bench, to allow fine tuning of the EV Formula student car they want to enter in the 2025 International FSAE competition.
Lacasse said she grew up around the automotive industry and decided to pursue it.
Her dad was an auto mechanic who has an old AC Cobra that’s fun to drive around.
“There’s just something about it that I have the itch for, that I just love being around it and being around people who think the same,” she said.
While in high school, auto tech teacher Emil Jurica encouraged her to stay with her interest while her first automotive job was at Randy’s Tirecraft in Tsawwassen where Randy Scott also was supportive.
Lacasse graduated from SDSS in 2019 and enrolled in mechanical engineering at UBC Okanagan.
“I think when I started the (auto) club, I think it was just me and one other girl and now we have quite a few,” she said.
With a year left to complete her degree, Lacasse knows what her career goal is.
“I want to work in the automotive field, particularly in the motorsport industry,” said Lacasse. “Ultimately, it would be awesome to be in the motorsport racing industry.”
Currently, she’s in the middle of a practicum at Tesla’s main engineering office in the San Francisco area. That’s an eight-month stint after which she’ll do a final year of study.
Lacasse says it’s been a lot of hard work, and as a female, she probably has to prove herself more. And having already been in the auto field for years, she’s used to being the only woman.
“But it’s really nice when you do have women that are just as passionate about it, (motorsport),” she said. “It’s a little bit harder … for people to just take what I say, right away. I kind of have to prove myself a little bit more, but I will say that a lot of the people that I have been surrounded with, have been super encouraging.”
Donors who want to help are asked to go to the UBC crowd-funding page at: http://tinyurl.com/285csntn.
The club also works with small and large businesses for sponsorship agreements. Its website is: http://tinyurl.com/4nrm3y9s.