Charged Up to Race
The 19th Annual Sunflower ElectroRally was held on Wednesday, April 27th at the Scott City Airport. The race is part of the Kansas ElectroRally Championship Series with other races held in Beloit and Olathe. When teams gather in Scott City for the annual race, there is no “perfect race weather guarantee.” Cold and inclement weather have been a problem in the past and this year was no different. Thunderstorms had moved through that morning, but had stopped before dawn. It was chilly and windy, but the race must go on.
Students representing 10 high schools from across Kansas competed. Not all of the competitors were in high school; Fort Hays State University participated alongside the teenage students and Rodney Schreck, from Tiger Racing, also competed.
Electric cars, designed and constructed from scratch, race to complete the most laps in a one hour endurance race. Cars come in four classes: Novice-teams that have not competed in an ElectroRally event. Standard-teams that have competed in an ElectroRally event. Solar-a vehicle that has an added power source such as solar panels. Open-anyone may participate as long as they follow racing rules and design guidelines. The course is a quarter-mile route in a road course design with twists and turns. The races are professionally run with strict car inspectors and safety as the rule of the day. Each car has an electric motor, up to 73 pounds of battery and each car must have 180 pounds of cargo. If the driver weighs less than 180 pounds then weight must be added. Some drivers, who, dripping wet, couldn’t weigh more than 100 pounds added close to their body weight to get to 180 pounds.
In addition to sponsoring individual programs at the Scott City and Great Bend high schools, Wheatland employees volunteer to help with setting up the course, takedown, grilling hamburgers and hotdogs for all of the race participants and whatever else is needed to help make the race a success.
Veteran Racer Continues to Compete
The concept of racing electric cars isn’t a new one. In 1997, the first ElectroRally was held in Kansas. The response was so positive it became an annual event. An organization called Electrathon America provided rules and guidelines for the event. The concept of Electrathon racing was introduced in 1990 by an Australian Electrathon racer named, Clark Beasley. The idea rapidly began to gain popularity. Rodney Schreck, an avid racer from Florida, remembers the day he knew that this was what he wanted to do and ElectroRally racing became not only a hobby, but a passion. It was in 1991, while watching an episode of MotorWeek about electric cars. At the time he had just recently built an electric skateboard.
With hopes of learning more about the sport, Schreck mailed 300 letters (we didn’t have the internet in 1991) to companies and individuals. He heard from two, one being Clark Beasley. With the help of Beasley, he built his first car and raced in his first race on May 31st, 1996. 20 years later and he’s still racing. 2016 was his biggest year, competing in 15 races. With each race he experiments with different motors and gear ratios and has a blast doing it. He must, not everyone would drive more than 1900 miles to Scott City to race.
Wheatland is proud to be a sponsor of this program; each year we look forward to seeing familiar faces and new ones. For more information about the electric car program in Kansas visit www.kansaselectrorally.org. Schools interested in starting an electric car program should contact Shawn Powelson, Manager of Member Services and Corporate Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.