What do Indy Grand Prix Winner Simon Pagenaud and Warwick High School have in common?

, , former engineer and Kendall Science Fellow | May 15, 2014, 4:26 pm EDT
Bookmark and Share

While some of you were watching Pagenaud win the Indianapolis Grand Prix on television, there was another (dare I say lesser known, but equally as important) Grand Prix happening at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC: the annual Electric Vehicle Grand Prix! The Electric Vehicle (EV) Grand Prix is a competition between local high school teams who build and race custom EVs by applying what they learn in their science, engineering, and math classes. Despite some wind and rain, it was a successful event with a new reigning champion, Warwick High School.

Electric Vehicle #757 is the winner Warwick High School just beginning the race at the start line.

Electric Vehicle #757 (Warwick High School, far left) at the start line. They would later win.

This year the EV Grand Prix had 15 teams from high schools across Maryland, Virginia, and DC, all of which participated in the one-hour race powered only by lead acid batteries. The EVs are three-wheeled, single-person, lightweight, electric-motor-driven vehicles with no more than 73 pounds of battery packs. Each vehicle has to meet specific design and safety requirements as set by Electrathon America rules and the vehicles are inspected prior to racing. The winner is the team whose vehicle drives the furthest distance in the hour long race.

Similar to pit stops in NASCAR races, each vehicle must stop four times to change drivers, which proves to be an interesting design challenge. Some teams remove the entire outer casing of the vehicle as depicted below, whereas others leave an opening for the driver to enter or exit from the top of the EV.

Electric vehicle #410 is Chesapeake High School. This picture shows their design to remove the cover of the vehicle while switching drivers.

Chesapeake High School’s electric vehicle during a driver change mid-race.

The full-day event started with vehicle inspections, a qualification round, and featured an EV parade of currently available EVs including the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S. Seeing the real world EVs drive the same track as the high school competition vehicles emphasized how similar principles are being applied by many car companies now, and the importance of the hands-on experience for early Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students. Maybe some of these students will end up designing future generations of EVs!

Although the awards ceremony was dampened by rain, the students’ spirits were not. The first place trophy went to last year’s second place winner, Warwick High School from Newport News, VA. In second place was Sandy Spring Friends School who also won best video, and third place went to Phelps Architecture, Construction & Engineering High School, who also got best photo.

The rest of the results are below, along with awards for technical innovation, fastest qualifying time, sportsmanship, best new team performance, graphic design, website and event promotion, best team photo, and best team video. But don’t take my word for it, you can hear more of the details from the students themselves—here are videos from first place Warwick High School and second place Sandy Spring Friends High School.

Final standings:

1. Warwick High School, Newport News, VA
2. Sandy Spring Friends School, Montgomery County, MD
3. Phelps Architecture, Construction & Engineering High School, Washington DC
4. Chesapeake High School, Baltimore County, MD
5. C.D. Hylton Senior High School, Prince William County, VA
6. School Without Walls HS, Washington DC
7. Clarksburg High School, Montgomery County, MD
8. Landon School, Montgomery County, MD
9. High Point High School, Prince George’s County, MD
10. Wheaton High School, Montgomery County, MD
11. C. Milton Wright High School, Harford County, MD
12. Clarksburg High School, Montgomery County, MD
13. Hereford High School, Baltimore County, MD
14. High Point High School, Prince George’s County, MD
15. Wheaton High School, Montgomery County, MD

Other awards:

Technical Innovation: C. Milton Wright High School
Fastest Qualifying Time: Landon School
Sportsmanship: Landon School
Best New Team Performance: Chesapeake High School,
Graphic Design: C.D. Hylton Senior High School
Web Site and Event Promotion: Clarksburg High School
Best Team Photo: Phelps Architecture, Construction & Engineering HS
Best Team Video: Sandy Spring Friends School

Also, UCS is having an online webinar through google hangout to discuss and answer some of your most frequent questions about EVs this weekend, so make sure to register and drop by Sunday May 18, 2014 at 8-9pm EDT!

Posted in: Vehicles

Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Show Comments

Comment Policy

UCS welcomes comments that foster civil conversation and debate. To help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion, please focus comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand, and refrain from personal attacks. Posts that are commercial, self-promotional, obscene, rude, or disruptive will be removed.

Please note that comments are open for two weeks following each blog post. UCS respects your privacy and will not display, lend, or sell your email address for any reason.