Where Are They Now Wednesdays: Neel Vasavada

It has been 11 years since Neel Vasavada participated in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) but it feels like just yesterday he was the business and HEV team leader for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Futurecar and FutureTruck teams.

Vasavada has always had an interest in vehicles. Growing up with a racing background, he worked on various Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) road racing teams throughout high school.  When he was accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he immediately became involved in hybrid electric vehicle development and AVTCs.

“I must say, my favorite moment was winning the 1999 Futurecar Challenge by 300 points over the next competitor,” he said. “My least favorite moment was graduating and having to go to the real world.”

Upon graduation, Vasavada went to work for EFI Technology, a leading supplier of engine management and data acquisition systems. In 2003, he decided he wanted a change and founded Apex Speed Technology.

As founder and president of Apex Speed Technology, one of the largest suppliers of custom control, data logging and wiring harness systems for professional motorsports, high-end custom vehicles and R&D markets, Vasavada gets to witness first-hand the impact young engineers have on today’s vehicle technology.

“Some of the most successful engineers I know combine a technical background with the ability to work with their hands in the field,” he said, “and AVTCs teach this.”

Despite living 2,000 miles away from Wisconsin, Vasavada stays in touch with some of his former AVTC teammates. “The friendships I made during those days have endured,” he said. “I just spent New Year’s with our old electrical group leader!”

Today, Vasavada lives in Venice Beach with his wife and 14-month old son, in whom he tries to instill Wisconsin engineer ‘gumption’.  He appreciates what AVTCs have taught him and hopes he stays in contact with his former teammates for many years to come.

“AVTCs gave me a lot of practice working in the field of competitive environments,” he said. “I sometimes feel like my current career is a DOE AVTC.”