The Woman Behind the Wheel of a Georgia Tech Icon
Ramblin’ Wreck Driver Abi Ivemeyer Takes Her Outreach on the Road
It is a moment that can put a smile on any Yellow Jacket’s face—walking to class, you hear the familiar aooogah of a horn, turn, and see the Rambin’ Wreck driving down Skiles on its way to the Campanile.
The 1930 Ford Model A sport coupe is the beloved mechanical mascot of Georgia Tech. Purchased in 1960, the classic car has been cared for and maintained by members of the Ramblin’ Reck Club since 1967. Perhaps best known as the keepers of the Wreck, the Ramblin’ Reck Club consists of 50 student body members who act as the official ambassadors of school spirit and tradition on campus. The Club organizes Homecoming events like the Wreck Parade and Mini 500 tricycle race and publishes the annual T-Book, which provides freshmen with information on Georgia Tech history, traditions, and campus life.
The driver of the Ramblin’ Wreck comes from the Club’s ranks. There is only one driver per year and they are elected by the Club’s membership. This year, that driver is electrical engineering major Abi Ivemeyer. The third year student from Snellville, Georgia, has been involved with the Club since her freshman year, but didn’t have her sights set on being the Wreck driver until recently. Growing up in a Tech family (her father, brother, aunt, and uncles are alumni), some of her earliest memories are going to football games at Bobby Dodd Stadium and her school spirit is tied to that legacy.
“I’ve always been very big on being passionate about what you do, caring about your community, and creating an environment that lifts up people’s attitudes and energies. As soon as I learned about the Reck Club and what they do, I realized it would be a phenomenal outlet for me to pour my energy and love for Tech back into the campus and student body,” said Ivemeyer .
She downplays her role as the car’s 5th female driver and 60th driver overall.
“I’m just the person behind the wheel. The Wreck stands by herself. I just make sure she gets where she needs to be so that she can make the impact she does. It’s amazing to see people’s reaction to her from a first person perspective,” said Ivemeyer .
Ivemeyer, who took the wheel in December to train for her official start of January 1, had never driven a stick shift. She was taught the peculiarities of driving a 90-year-old classic car with a 3-speed manual transmission by the 2019 driver, business administration major Ben Damus .
In addition to spreading school spirit on campus, the Wreck is also a sought after “guest” at various private events like weddings, galas, and alumni gatherings. Scheduling the Wreck’s social calendar is entirely up to Ivemeyer and depends on her availability.
“I try to never say ‘no’ to any request, but there’s only one Ramblin’ Wreck and I’m the only driver, so sometimes we have to get creative like offering to attend a rehearsal dinner instead of a wedding ceremony,” said Ivemeyer .
At the end of January, the Wreck had already been requested for over 70 events this year. With the sheer volume of appearances, as well as the fact that Ivemeyer has a full course load, it is hard not to be a little bit awed by the passion and dedication of the human behind the wheel.
Ivemeyer, who tries to take the Wreck out at as often as possible, explains that sometimes you’ll see it parked on campus with one or two Ramblin’ Reck members standing by it.
“That means I’m in class,” she says. “But yeah, if I have 45 minutes in between classes, maybe I’ll just bring it out for a little while so that people can pose for pictures or even hop in and go for a ride. At the end of the day, the Ramblin’ Wreck belongs to the Georgia Tech student body. I want to honor that by making it accessible to as many students as possible.”
Last revised May 15, 2020