- NYE At The Green Grand Prix
On May 8th, NYElectrathon teams converged on Watkins Glen to take part in the Green Grand Prix. The event was hosted by Bob Gillespie, and there were many exciting things to do and see. Some of the highlights included a GM fuel cell powered SUV, a wood powered SUV, and a biodiesel Porsche!
GM's Hydrogen Fuel Cell SUV Wood powered SUV (gasification)
Biodeisel Porsche that ran in the Green Grand Prix
While there, the teams met the world record holder for Electrathon: C. Michael Lewis and his car the “ERacer”. This car and driver combo sustained 56 mph for a one hour race! Mr. Lewis also competed in the Mileage competition, and did very well. He drove his hybrid Honda Insight, with a trailer (seen in the background below) and his electrathon car in the trailer, and still got 50 mpg!
Members of the Caz HS Racing Team get a chance to talk to C. Micheal Lewis
When you talk to the students that participated though, they all agreed that the hilghight for them was the Slalom Course. In this event, each team had a driver complete one lap around a short track, then complete a slalom portion, and return to the start line. At this point, the team did a driver change. Each team was allowed to use as many drivers as they wanted, and then divided the total time by the number of drivers. This allowed for greater participation, and also tested the teams ability to switch drivers quickly.
Place Team 1 Cazenovia High School 2 Baldwinsville's Baker High School 3 Cicero- North Syracuse High School 4 Wayne Technical & Career Center
The teams also did technical presentations for all to see. Baldwinsville's Baker HS presented on how to design and build aluminum frames which garnered them a first place win. C-NS team presented their Fuel Cell powered vehicle that won 1st place in the Shell Eco-Challenge and came in second. Cazenovia's team presented on deep cycle batteries and how to test them for third place. The winner received an HD camcorder.
- Electrathon Record Holder @ Green Grand Prix
C. Micheal Lewis, a freelance illustrator and graphic designer by trade, is the current record holder for distance in an electrathon race in one hour.
He has been into racing cars since he was a kid, but discovered human power racing after college, when he started doing the posters for HPV events, which continues to this day.
He co-founded the Electrathon program in Maine in 1994, but didn't build his first car until 1996, when the record was 37 miles. His second car set the national record (47) at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1999. His fifth, and probably final car, the Eracer, set a record of 53 miles at NHIS in 2006, another at Kansas Speedway (58) in 2008, and the current record of 62 miles at the Ford Michigan Proving ground in 2009.
He took the Eracer to Bonneville in 2008, just for fun, as that is not in any sanctioned by Electrathon America, and did 100mph in the standing mile. That would have been a record if Shannon Cloud had not done 110mph.
He will be at the Green Grand Prix on May 8th. The open access article below was originally published in 2005 at www.evworld.com, by Bill Moore. It can be read in its entirety at: http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=922
Taking his cue from human-powered extreme racers, the detachable tail is believed to create lift similar to the sailboat on a cross-wind reach, the fastest sailing tack. The current Electrathon-class speed record is just shy of 50 mph, a record Lewis wants to capture.
Making extreme efficiency 'cool' is the mission of this 55 year-old, self-confessed liberal hippie
C. Michael Lewis is seriously into extreme efficiency. It's his personal mission to make it cool.
Okay... "cool" dates him. He admits he's a 55 year-old hippie, but that doesn't prevent him from squeezing his lanky frame into a tiny sliver of an electric car in pursuit of speed records while proselytizing the virtues of energy efficiency vehicles.
Lewis initially was attracted in the mid-1980s to human-powered "Xtreme" machines that are, essentially, highly streamlined shells over racing bicycle frames. As he aged, he became interested in their electric-powered counterparts and the Electrathon movement that nurtured them.
The Electrathon movement initially originated in the Britain and then migrated to Australia where it was transplanted to California, gradually spreading up the Pacific Coast. From there, it caught on as a way to introduce American high school students to electric vehicles they could design, build, and race themselves for only a few thousand dollars.
There is no specific formula for the design of the cars. They need only be safe, capable of carrying a single driver, and be powered with 64 pounds (29kg) of lead acid batteries. The result is wildly fun innovation and improvisation. (EV World "godfathered" the program in Nebraska that now includes over 100 high schools across the state).
Lewis, who is a member of the Electrathon America board, helped start the program in Maine, where it eventually grew to include some 20 schools. Other Northeast states got involved and there now small, but growing programs in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Besides being a freelance illustrator and graphic designer for the last 28 years, doing posters and t-shirt designs for various events including the annual Tour de Sol, Lewis began designing and racing his own Electrathon-class cars.
He likes to talk about the extremes of the sport explaining that he's seen everything form a $300 car that some high school students cobbled together from old bicycle parts and an electric motor over a weekend to a 25-member high school team from Detroit with two cars rumored to cost $80,000. (The custom-made mold for the body shell was made by a automotive supplier that specializes in this for $20,000).
The current top speed for most efficient designs is just shy of 50 mph. The record is currently held by a high school team. The cars race on either road courses or ovals depending on what's available. Each heat last one hour and the winner is the car that completes the most number of laps in that time. So, the very best cars are traveling nearly 50 miles on a single charge. Lewis has gotten his car, for brief periods of time, up to 55 mph.
Two views of C Micheal Lewis' record breaking car
Electrathon-class cars aren't the only approach to teaching kids about electric vehicles. Another equally popular program, often found in the Southeast and Southwest regions of the America., takes a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle and converts it to electric drive. Lewis sees this as an excellent way to prepare kids who are going to be working on cars for a living. He personally, however, finds the creativity found in the Electrathon cars much more appealing and intellectually satisfying.
Another observation he's made over the years is the diversity of people that these programs bring together. In high schools, it is usually the kids who excel academically that tend to participate, but they quickly learn that they also need the kids down the automotive shop who are often on the verge of dropping out of school. Together, they end up helping and learning from each other.
Lewis and his partner, who is the engineer and machinist, have built five cars, starting with a plywood "mule". Over time, we've learned from their own experience and from some of those competitive high school teams, how to improve the next car. His current vehicle is six inches lower, has 25 percent less frontal area and weighs a mere 105 lbs (47.63 kg)
"On paper, this car will go sixty-eight", he said.
One of his goals, besides capturing the speed record from the Portland, Maine high school team that currently holds it, is to find a way to use television to reach out to more kids. But these extreme efficiency sports are the antithesis of high-powered sports like Nascar, where cars go 200+ and drivers risk life and limb.
"These events are like watching paint dry", Lewis admitted, but he is convinced that television can be used to make them more exciting to watch. To that end, he's been trying for some time now to get a major corporate sponsor interested in at least funding a web site devoted to the four major extreme efficiency sports: human-powered racing where the top speed is now 81 mpgh, Electrathon, Solar Challenges and SAE's maximum mileage vehicles, which are similar to Electrathon-type vehicles but usually are powered by gasoline engines. He thinks Siemens would be an ideal candidate, but convincing them has proved a challenge.
"If we could get all these groups together, we could learn from each other".
"We're trying to develop an ethic of efficiency. We're trying to get people to think that being efficient is really cool, as opposed to raw power".
- CNS Goes to California!
CNS Goes to California! High school students design and build a hydrogen fuel cell car!
Cicero-North Syracuse Technology students are going to Fontana, California to compete in the Shell Eco-Marathon. With the help of a grant from Carrier Corporation in Syracuse, the car was built in record time. They are the only high school team east of the Rockies competing! Click on the links below for more information:
- CNS Team To "Race" Hydrogen Fuel-cell Car
Wednesday April 15th, 2009 By Catie O'Toole/The Post-Standard
Cicero-North Syracuse teacher Marty Miner, left, and student Kevin Thyne check the engine of a student-built car powered by a fuel cell last week. The C-NS Performance Engineering Team has taken its hydrogen fuel cell car to California to compete against cars from one other high school (that's bringing two teams) and three colleges.
CICERO, NY - Nick Pietricola and his twin brother, Danny, have been racing go-carts and dirt bikes since they were 5 years old. When they were 9 or 10, they started speeding around on four-wheelers.
Now 16-year-old sophomores at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, the Pietricolas say they will have to let up on the gas pedal a bit when they "race" the region's first high school hydrogen fuel cell car Saturday at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
C-NS's Performance Engineering Team is one of two high schools in the nation -- and six teams overall -- that have designed and built a prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicle with hopes of winning the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas.
But this race isn't about crossing the finish line first; it's about fuel efficiency, said Marty Miner, C-NS team adviser and technology education teacher.Gloria Wright / The Post-StandardCicero-North Syracuse High School student Kevin Thyne works on the engine of a student-built hydrogen fuel cell vehicle last week.
The C-NS Performance Engineering Team will compete Saturday in the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
"We're making every attempt to be as efficient as possible, " Miner said. "With our mentors and the hard work on the kid's part, I think we have a good shot at bringing home some award money." Ted Kliszczewicz, a professional engineer and senior training instructor for Carrier Corp., initiated the project about two years ago when he approached Miner about developing a hydrogen fuel cell car to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas.
Miner was enthusiastic from the start. "These kids are the future engineers, " he said. "They're the ones who will be working with and designing the vehicles that we drive in the future and the energy sources we use." Carrier Corp. gave C-NS a $12,500 grant last year and a second $12,500 grant earlier this month to help educate the students about "green" technology and sustainable energy resources. C-NS used about $4,000 of the grant money to build the school's first electric car last year. That project helped this year's Performance Engineering Team design and build the hydrogen fuel cell car. The grant money also paid for the roughly $8,000 fuel cell and other parts that went into building the hydrogen car, Miner said. The students started meeting in September with mentors -- five engineers from Carrier, Lockheed Martin and WMB Enterprises -- who guided them in the design process and educated them about the electrical and mechanical aspects of the vehicle, said Steve Grimaldi, a mentor and service engineer for Carrier. JPW Fabricators also donated their services by welding the vehicle's frame together, Miner said.
The students, who plan to leave Tuesday for California, put the finishing touches on their hydrogen fuel cell car last week. Their mentors and Miner also will be at the competition. "We're all hoping to win, but even if we don't we got a good experience and learned a lot, " Nick Pietricola said. "It's not all about the race; it's more about the experience of building, designing and solving problems.
- Spring 2009 RIT Open Practice
Spring 2009 RIT Open PracticeBaldwinsville, Cato-Meridian, Cazenovia, Irondequoit, and Pittsford Mendon all were represented at the open practice where team members and advisors came together to practice and just have fun.
May 2009 By Chris Hurd
While practicing for the Fall 2009 CNY Electrathon Challenge at Oswego Speedway next October, drivers were able to clock their speeds with the use of a roadside speed check.
The device is manufactured by a local company in Rochester, and was set up on the track at RIT for the day. In the picture above Cato Meridian is clocked at 25 MPH coming out of turn one. Does the sign look familiar? The company manufactures and distributes them to police forces nationwide for use on public roads.
The most interesting car at the event was brought out by Pittsford Mendon. On the outside, it looked like a BSD Aerocoupe, but there was nothing ordinary under the hood!
Underneath, the car was running on 60V supplied by five power wheels batteries. These batteries drove dual custom DC servo motors that drove the rear wheel through two drive chains. The car also had two throttles; one for forward, and one for reverse. By using the two throttles together the car had regenerative braking. The servo motors were driven by custom drive units, and the motors were wound by the students in advisor Scott Banister's Engineering Design and Development class.
Most importantly, students were able to exchange ideas, learn more about the sport, and practice for upcoming events at Oswego Speedway and Lime Rock Park. Cato-Meridian beat B'ville by two seconds in the Pit-Stop competition where students practiced safe pit stops between laps.
Bar-B-Que of the day award went to Baldwinsville's Baker High School: Their advisors, Jamie Cuyler and Matt Hudson, served up Sausage Sammies, and Teriyaki Beef on their grill!
- Who Really Won the 2009 Fall CNY Electrathon Challenge?
Editorial: Who Really Won the 2009 Fall CNY Electrathon Challenge?
October 18th 2009 By: Chris Hurd
It turned out to be a gorgeous fall day in CNY, although a little chilly. Eleven teams from across NYS descended on Oswego Speedway amidst the full fall foliage to race the electric cars that they had built. Some of them were brand new to the sport of electrathon, while others have been in it for five years.
At the end of the race the leader board said it all. It tallied the laps of the top three teams in two divisions and told the story of who did the most laps in one hour. But did it tell the whole story? I think not.
It started about a week ago, when one of the participants, while getting ready for the race, broke a very expensive rear wheel on one of their two cars during practice. The team of students decided to put parts from their two cars into one so they could at least race one of them. This team had put in 960 hours in the month of September so they could race at Oswego, but now they were down to only one car. That’s ok though, because their advisor called Jamie Cuyler, team advisor for Baldwinsville, and he said not to worry, he had a spare wheel the team could borrow for the race. Crisis averted.
At 1:00pm on race day, a novice team that travelled a long distance broke a bearing during practice laps in prep for the big race. They didn’t have a spare and their car wouldn’t work without it. That was ok too. I asked Baldwinsville advisor Matt Hudson if he had a spare, and he gave the other team one of theirs. Another team gets to run in the big race.
At 4:45 pm, another team is frantically trying to get their car to work, but their throttle for their electric motor stopped working fifteen minutes before they were supposed to be on the line ready to race and they didn’t have a spare. No one I asked had a spare. That is until I asked Mr. Cuyler from Baldwinsville. It just so happened he did have one spare. Brand new, still in the package. 5:05 pm, another team hurries to the start line with a brand new throttle. Another crisis averted.
As the race wore on, all the teams that were there with the hopes of racing, all their hard work and effort building their cars over the past year was finally coming to fruition. Everyone that came to Oswego with a car to race was on the track. And the leader board told the story. Baldwinsville was not on it.
So who really won? Thanks to Baldwinsville’s team and their advisors, everyone did.
Special thanks to Baldwinsville, all the other participating schools, the thirty volunteers who registered, inspected, and ran the race, special guests Jeff Dissenger and Eric Chamberlain, and all the fans who came out.
- CNY Teams Build & Race Electric Cars
CNY high school teams build, race electric cars; Auburn wins
October 17, 2009, 7:43PM By: Liam Migdail-SmithBaldwinsville High School senior Nick Jacobs, 17, makes a test run in the school's entry
in an electric car racing competition held Saturday at Oswego Speedway. Photo by Jim Commentucci / The Post-StandardFor the Auburn High School electric car team, improving performance is all about gearing.
If geared right, a one-man electric car can hit 60 mph, but the batteries won’t last long. A greater gear ratio would make the car run longer, but very slowly. The key for teams, like Auburn, competing in the CNY Electrathon Challenge on Saturday in Oswego: Find the right gear ratio to make your car go as many laps as it can in an hour without losing power.
Auburn was one of eight teams competing in this year’s CNY Electrathon Challenge at Oswego Speedway. The race, now in its fourth year (the second year it’s been held in Oswego), challenges high school teams to build and race small, electric cars.
The teams whose car makes it around the speedway’s three-eighths-mile track the most times in an hour wins. Cars must be powered by two car batteries and meet a series of safety requirements.
Last year, Auburn tied with a team from Cato-Meridian High School for first place, completing 72 laps so the team just had to make some minor changes this year. On average, the cars go about 30 to 35 mph when racing.
“Hopefully, we’ll finish right when we’re dead,” said the team’s faculty coach, Bill Gilmore, earlier Saturday. Auburn won the competition.
Cazenovia High School team coach, Chris Hurd, said safety is the number one issue, followed by just having fun. “Winning shouldn’t be a part of it,” he said, but admitted the teams do tend to get a little competitive.
Hurd, a technology teacher at Cazenovia High School, started the event after some students approached him about building an electric car for their senior project. He said it wouldn’t be feasible time and money-wise but the students did the fundraising they needed and he eventually jumped on board.
The team competed at an Electrathon in Connecticut and was hooked. Hurd took a team the next year but decided to start a competition locally. The goal is to draw schools from all over the state and have two competitions a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Cazenovia High School entered two cars in this year’s race. Each car has two drivers, each doing half the race. Sitting in the car for the half hour can be taxing, said one of the drivers, Max Kellish, because you have to squeeze your body into the tight space.
Baldwinsville went out early last year after a problem with the brakes caused the car to crash and lose a wheel. So this year, the team’s added completely new wheels and disc brakes.
Cato-Meridian has finished first the last two years but was still making some small changes to the car. The team came up with new “kill switches,” two switches, one for the driver, one that can be pulled from the outside, that turns off power in an emergency. Like other teams, they also tweaked the gearing.
“We’ve got a good gearing set-up,” said Adam Quimby, a student on the team. “It’s a good balance.”