High school electric car designers, drivers to race Thursday in FHSU's High Plains Rally

Full-sized electric cars designed, built and driven by high school students will race at West Frontier Park beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the High Plains Rally.

The event is open and free to the public. It is sponsored by Fort Hays State University's Technology Studies Department, Sunflower Electric Power Cooperative and Midwest Energy.

Tech studies students and community volunteers will meet at 6:30 a.m. to begin setting the stage for the quarter mile road course event.

"Student drivers and their teams will try to navigate the course to achieve the most laps in a one-hour period," said Joe Chretien, assistant professor of technology studies and race coordinator. Dr. Robert Howell, associate professor of technology studies, serves as race steward.

"Three races are scheduled, two in the Standard Class for experienced teams, and the Experimental Class for all those who want to try out those special motors, controllers, or solar arrays," said Chretien.

Registration opens at 7 a.m. inside the small shelter house. Car inspections begin at 8, drivers and lap counters meet at the track with the steward at 10, and the first race, an Experimental Class, begins at 11.

A standard class race is next, at noon, and the third and final race, Standard Class, begins at 2 p.m.

"The races are professionally run with strict car inspections and safety as the rule of the day," said Chretien.

Sixteen FHSU students from Howell’s Power and Energy class work the race as part of their Service Learning Project.

"These college students are involved in every facet of the day's activities and work very closely with all the teams and community volunteers," said Chretien. "Their task is to see that all of the teams are ready by race time and that all of the races are run safely and smoothly."

Volunteers from the power companies help judge each race by counting and tallying laps and awarding prizes to the winners.

"The sponsors also provide a large quantity of food, feeding all of the race participants, advisors, sponsors, and the many volunteers that make this event happen," said Chretien.

"It's a day-long event that provides a lot of learning and fun for everyone," said Chretien.

Spectator seating is available, but some people "prefer their own lawn chairs in the sun," said Chretien.

"The races start at 11, but many come early just to walk through the pits and see the machines before they go whizzing by," he said.

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