A wave of the green flag and the race is on ! How many laps can specially designed electric cars — built by teams of high school students — make in a single hour around a track or course?
Spectators at the Sunflower ElectroRally watched that question and answer come to life as the first race of the 2023 racing season kicked of at the Spencer Flight and Education Center on April 6 in Scott City. The E-car racing team from Scott Community High School — once again — took home first place in both standard and solar divisions, competing against at least nine other high schools (and one college team) from across the state.
The Scott City race is the first of three races in the Kansas ElectroRally Championship Series. The second race, the Touchstone Energy West ElectroRally, was held April 20 in Hays, where the Beavers came in first in the solar division and second in the standard division. The final race, Touchstone Energy East, was held May 6 in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Beavers took home first place again in both solar and standard divisions.
The state championship is awarded at the end of the race season and is based on points and scores from the combined three races. Those results are still pending as of this date. Last year and the year prior, Scott Community High School took home the state championship trophy in both divisions after competing at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City.
WEC is proud to support this local team in the annual competition that promotes science, math and hands-on learning for high school students who design, construct, develop and test these competitive electric vehicles every year. These low-to-the-ground EVs are single-driver, lightweight, aerodynamic, high-efficiency, electric cars with three or four wheels.
Most teams build their cars from the ground up using lightweight components such as aluminum frames and bicycle wheels. Teams can enter their EVs in one of two classes — standard or experimental/solar.
Both standard and experimental/solar class cars are powered by a battery pack, and experimental vehicles can add solar panels for additional power to supplement the battery pack. During the race, the EVs compete based on time, distance and how effciently a car and driver can travel with unpredictable traffic and variable course conditions. One hour after the green flag drops, the checkered flag waves and the race is won by the team completing the most laps.
Students have the opportunity to compete in all aspects of racing at these events — as drivers, pit crew members and even lap counters. While vehicle and safety rules must be followed, plenty of room remains for experimentation and flexibility in the design and composition of their vehicles.
Teams also develop race strategies, which are just as important as speed. Some drive fast and get many laps at the beginning, and others go slower to conserve battery and to last the whole race. The cars can reach speeds in excess of 30 mph and travel a distance of 25 miles in a one-hour period.
Electric utilities like ours have been actively involved in Kansas ElectroRally since 1987 and continue to support the program. The Sunflower ElectroRally event is sponsored by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, our power supplier, and several of our sister member cooperatives.
For more information or the latest race results, visit www. kansaselectrorally.org.