by Susan Neuhalfen | September 15, 2017 4:28 pm
Liberty Christian’s Solar Car Team came in a close second in the Advanced Division at the 2017 Solar Car Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, posting its best finish in the history of the school. The team of 10 students and teacher sponsors finished just 52 laps behind first place.
“This year’s finish is the best we’ve ever done,” said Dr. Brent Dragoo, sponsor. “We’ve improved our energy management, decreased our rolling resistance thanks to aerodynamics, and worked well together as a team from start to finish. We had a great time!”
In the three days of racing, students logged 382 laps around the speedway totaling 573 miles.
The Solar Car Challenge began in 1993 as a high school extra-curricular program but evolved into what is now the Solar Car Challenge Foundation. Teams of students from all over the world apply engineering and technology skills to build or refine a car powered solely by the sun. As of 2017, 181 high schools in 36 states, plus Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas took part in some phase of the Solar Car Challenge Education program.
The challenge teaches high school students how to plan, design, engineer, build, and race roadworthy solar cars, which is accomplished through six national teaching workshops, on-site visits, curriculum materials, and summer camps. Every year the cars and teams are put to the test in one final event, this year at Texas Motor Speedway. In the past, the Liberty Christian Solar Car Team has participated in cross-country races overseas as well as in the U.S.
One of the most impressive parts of the challenge is the camaraderie across all of the participating teams. It is not unusual for one team to help another if there are mechanical problems. All cars must pass an inspection or “scrutineering” before the race. Because Liberty Christian passed theirs early, they spent time helping other teams. According to one teacher, they literally rewired another team’s car so it would pass scrutineering and be able to race.
For their selfless work, Liberty Christian students achieved another honor: winning the Sandt Award for displaying the true spirit of solar car racing through distinguished service to their fellow teams.
“Our students demonstrated the Warrior Way to other teams as they provided their know-how and time to other teams who were preparing for the race,” said Upper School Principal Heather Lytle. “They truly showed we are all a big family in solar car.”
Liberty plans to compete again in the Solar Car Challenge in 2018 in another rally race to California and then again in the World Solar Car Challenge in 2019 in Australia.
Team members included Ryan Allison, Austin Graves, Gabe Graves, Maximo Gutierrez, Austin Hunt, McLaren Kenway, captain George Marye, Connor Robbins, Luke Rosprim, Raleigh Tobben, and McLaren Wang. Mr. Evan Hunt served as a coach with Dr. Dragoo, and Mrs. Jamie Michalek served as a team chaperon along with Mrs. Gallo.
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