High school students race electric cars at High Plains Rally 2008

Two upcoming events will feature electric car racing by high school and college students. One event will be at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., and the other at Fort Hays State University.

The KAN-AM Electric Challenge, Monday, Oct. 6 at the Speedway, will feature electric car race teams from Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Maine and Georgia, including Team Electrolite of Portland, Maine, which holds the current speed record for electric cars -- covering 53.16 miles in an hour using less than a kilowatt of energy to do it.

In electric racing, the challenge is time and distance. The car that completes the most laps in a one-hour time frame is the winner. Cars come in two classes: standard, powered by batteries, and experimental, powered at least partially by solar.

The Kansas State University Solar Car Team will also race in the open division at the Speedway, testing out new designs and components.

Most of the entries will be high school teams from three states racing in both the standard and the experimental divisions. Schools from 22 school districts in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa have more than 50 cars entered. Other teams represent community colleges, technical colleges and private hobbyists.

Racing begins at 10 a.m.

The KAN-AM Electric Challenge is nationally sanctioned by Electrathon America. Race sponsors are U.S. Premium Beef, Kansas ElectroRally and Wheatland Electric.

The KAN-AM Challenge is the brainchild of Kansas ElectroRally and its executive committee, whose goal is to give electric car teams the thrill of racing on a real NASCAR track. Students from the FHSU's Technology Studies Department will administer the race as part of a service learning class and project.

For more information, visit the Web site at www.kansaselectrorally.org to find information about Kansas ElectroRally and about the KAN-AM Electric Challenge.

Kansas ElectroRally -- a partnership between FHSU, Midwest Energy Inc., Sunflower Electric Power Corporation and Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc. -- is also the prime mover of the second event, the High Plains Rally for experimental electric vehicles on Thursday, Oct. 16, in Hays, Kan.
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About 100 high school students in 15 teams from Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska will meet at a makeshift race track in West Frontier Park in Hays, Kan., to race full-sized electric cars -- cars designed, built and raced by the students.

Students and faculty from FHSU technology studies students will set up the track that morning for the 2008 High Plains Rally.

Two races are scheduled: one for experimental cars and one for standard.

The course is a quarter-mile route in a road course design with twists, turns and at least one area that rises and falls sharply. The races are professionally run with strict car inspections and safety as the rule of the day.

Registration will begin inside the shelter house of the park at 7 a.m. Inspection of race vehicles will begin at 8 a.m. Races start at 11 a.m.

Race coordinators are Joe Chretien, assistant professor of technology studies at FHSU, and Dr. Robert Howell, associate professor of technology studies. Howell also serves as race steward.

Technology studies students are involved in every facet of the day's activities and work closely with all the teams and community volunteers to see that all teams are ready by race time and the races run safely and smoothly.

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