Kent State student sees more to cars than transportation
Written by Alex Cossin on April 25, 2018
Most of us interact with cars on a daily basis, relying on them to get us from point A to point B. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and prices. But for Kent State University student Ahmad al-hamed, there’s more to them than just transportation.
I met up with Ahmad on campus. I looked around and found a man sitting comfortably in the corner with headphones in, vibing to his music in a building he’d never been in before.
I knew it was Ahmad because he was wearing a shirt with a Nissan branded letter “Z” on it. Ahmad drives a Nissan 370z, that’s where the “Z” on his shirt comes from.
Ahmad asked me how long the interview would take because he had a court date at noon for drifting that Nissan 370z through an intersection. Ahmad said he got pulled over by Kent Police and was threatened with 6 points on his license.
Of course, he felt the need to fight it. After all, cars and driving are everything to Ahmad.
“It started when I was kid,” said Ahmad. “My dad was a car guy, and we used to go every weekend to car dealerships just to look at the new cars and everything. He used to have two or three cars. Like every couple of months, he just sold and bought new cars. They used to be like BMW coupes, porsches, corvettes, so I just loved that. That’s what made me love cars, being a young kid, I wasn’t interested in anything else like sports, or anything else. I was just with my dad the whole time. And even video games and stuff, I just played Need for Speed and that kind of stuff.”
Ahmad’s favorite car of all time is an e46 BMW m3. The e46 m3 is an early 2000’s masterpiece of German engineering. It’s low, sleek and small, still impressing enthusiasts to this date. Luckily for Ahmad, his dad owned one and when it came time to drive, he handed him the keys.
“He had an 03 BMW e46 M3 and it was an individual convertible,” said Ahmad. “He owned it for like six or seven years from like 2006 to 2012 when he passed it down to me. So, he like handed me the keys and everything, but he was like ‘you’re not going to drive it unless you get your license.’ But I drove it once I got my permit, and he let me drive it for going to school for a couple weeks. It was the last week of school and summer was coming up and stuff, so I wanted to have fun. But I got rear ended by one of my friends.”
Ahmad was okay, and that’s all his dad cared about as well as Ahmad’s safety.
“The accident was really bad,” said Ahmad. “The guy that hit me was going like 150 mph or something. I slowed down and being a coupe, it’s really low so I was trying not to scrape the front end and he was just going really fast trying to catch up, and he didn’t see me slow down, so he just hit me.”
Ahmad was born in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riad, and has been here for six years. He’s a Sophomore at Kent State University and is studying mechanical engineering. I tried to get Ahmad to talk more about his previous life, but once he got started on cars, he just couldn’t back away.
“A lot of people have different addictions,” said Ahmad. “Like some people are addicted to soccer, some people are addicted to video games or some people are addicted to alcohol or whatever. My addiction is just cars, just driving around or riding around in cars. Looking at them and talking about them basically. Just smelling the gas and hearing the engine revving and everything.”
Ahmad spends a lot of time behind the wheel of a car. He said his first year at Kent State, he would drive around in his mini cooper until 2 a.m. almost every night.
“It’s like, you’re connected with the car and then you’re like isolated from the world, you know? It’s just you in your own car and nothing can annoy you or anything and you just feel comfortable and you can be yourself,” said Ahmad. “That’s how I feel. It’s the only thing that relieves me and makes me happy again.”
Ahmad found out that he’s not the only one around here who is obsessed with four-wheeled locomotion. He started making friends through the car world.
“Since I got here, I really didn’t find anyone that liked cars,” said Ahmad. “I didn’t find anyone that was a car guy. Maybe they liked cars, but they don’t really know that much about them and they don’t like driving around and stuff. They just look at them, like a Porsche or Lambo or something just like everyone else. When I got here, I realized that my friends have different likings and interests, like hanging out and everything and going out, and I didn’t really like that. I just wanted to drive around.”
Ahmad got to the point where he wanted to organize all of his friends into one group and eventually started the Kent State University Car Club.
“By a month, we got like 30 people,” said Ahmad. “We started a GroupMe group because you can actually mute that if you don’t want to get the texts. They had events and somewhat. That kind of worked out for a while, and we got like 90 or something members and at that point, the maximum for group me was 100 members so we were like ‘we have to fix this.’ We almost did a second group, and we thought it wasn’t going to work. The next best thing was Facebook – most of us have Facebook and our friends are on Facebook. We see a lot of different car groups around like Cleveland and Akron, and thought why don’t we just do the same thing? So, we created the group.”
The KSU Car Club continued to grow and currently sits at 524 members. Since becoming a Facebook page, Kent State University has recognized it as an official club. Ahmad is in the works with getting the university to host a car show along the campus walkway over summer while foot traffic is down.
Ahmad’s appreciation for cars goes to show how someone’s passion can drive them to success and happiness.