Sunday, July 1, 2012

Student Made Electric Racing Cars Draw Attention at Fly-In

Making a promotional stop at today's Marion Fly-In were several high school students and teacher. The Cougar Electric Car Company, part of Cedar Rapids' Kennedy High School is a program designed for students to experience design, manufacturing, promotion and racing electric cars. In the number 50 car today was incoming junior, Wyatt. His experience through this program includes racing this and the other student made electric cars in competitions at tracks in Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan. He is investigating programs offered through General Motors for his post high school education.

Wyatt related racing stories as well as design and fabrication tales. His passion for the program is apparent in telling how various batteries perform and then easily slips into a discussion of how to win races. During one race he described brake failure during a pit stop. Wyatt's solution was to stop the car by pressing his gloved hand to the rotating wheel, squeezing and wishing for the best. His action resulted in first, second and third degree burns to his fingers including the extraction of rubber tire fragments from his hand by medical professionals. He now jokes that he doesn't have finger prints on three fingers.

Other members of the Cougar team discussed how the cars work, where they race this summer and what they are learning in the process. Another driver mentions his best finish was fourth in a recent race. Barry Wilson, the academic adviser to the program challenged the driver to do better, figure out how to get more power out of his car and how to drive more strategically to win a first place trophy. And still another team member, who is also a driver talked about her diving skills in the pool. She is excited to do more racing this summer and contribute to the design of future electric racing cars.

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