Omar Khan is on a Mission to Spread Smiles on Campus
As the newest driver of Georgia Tech’s historic mascot, the Ramblin’ Wreck, Omar Khan takes his job seriously. During the driver elections in November, Khan prepared a two-and-a-half-page speech and eight pages of notes to present to fellow members of the Ramblin’ Reck Club, which is responsible for electing a driver every year.
So when Khan was elected: “I was in shock,” he said. “My heart was beating out of my chest. I was just so surprised. And I remember every day how I felt in that moment because it helps me remember what a fortunate position I’m in to get to drive this car.”
The Wreck is a 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe perhaps most famous for leading the football team onto the field at every home game since 1961 in one of Georgia Tech’s most beloved traditions. On any given day, the Wreck can be found driving around campus, blasting its unmistakable “aa-oo-gah” horn, or appearing at an alumni event. As the driver, Khan is responsible for taking the vehicle on its numerous outings, as well as its regular upkeep and maintenance.
Over its six decades of use, the Wreck has weathered its fair share of damage, including abuse from opposing schools. In one famous incident in 1963, Tennessee students painted the car a terrible shade of orange.
These days, Khan, an industrial and systems engineering student, faces more risk of mechanical issues than threats of vandalism. He said that while many things can go wrong with such an old car, the key to managing issues as they arise is to stay calm.
“You’re going to be put in a ton of situations that you’re not prepared for,” he said. “You just have to be decisive. Make a decision, and if it’s the wrong decision, then you deal with the consequences.”
One of the aspects of serving as driver that Khan is most looking forward to is football season. In anticipation, he’s been working to develop relationships with players and giving them opportunities to interact with the Wreck.
“I drove by the other day and the players knew my name,” he said. “They love the Wreck and, obviously, they love following it out on the field, but they hardly ever get rides. So I’ve been trying to do for them, the same thing we do for the rest of the student body.”
Khan thinks of his role as the Wreck’s driver as an opportunity to spread smiles on campus and to help students have unforgettable experiences during their time at Tech. He knows students will always remember their interactions with the Wreck.
He admits it’s a therapeutic experience for him sometimes, too. When he’s having a bad day, he said, he likes to drive the car around campus, wave at people, and see them light up with big smiles.
“The Wreck belongs to the student body,” Khan said. “I’ve been chosen to operate it, but it isn’t any more mine than any other student’s. It’s equally ours. And that’s a really important thing for me to remember – to not use it selfishly, because its mission is to spread joy around campus.”