Pushing the Limits of Efficiency: Electric racers try for 50 mph with one horsepower!
Important Information for those who have
was coined as a name to best describe an event organised in 1999 in Sussex
as part of a series of projects funded by Sussex
Enterprise to assist
advanced engineering companies in the county. Due to the dearth of
youngster leaving school to follow engineering careers it was aimed
exclusively at secondary schools to encourage a greater appreciation of
engineering and, hopefully therefore, an uptake in the taking of
technology subjects at both ‘GCSE’ and ‘A’ level. It provided a
carefully structured programme to design, build and then race an
all-electric vehicle with an event format that ensured that at least
twelve pupils had to be involved in every vehicle, thus ensuring as large
a number of pupils were influenced as possible.
Greenpower competitor 2004
was selected as the venue as it offered a ‘wow’ factor at the end of
the project that started in May 1999 with the race set for the fifteenth
of October. A wheelchair motor manufactured by Fracmo in Hastings, East
Sussex, was selected for the cars, and Lucas sponsored the batteries for
the event. Schools were recruited with the help of an all schools mail out
organised by the University of Brighton and the Neighbourhood Engineers
movement organised by the then Sussex SATRO, backed up all the schools
with practical help.
six-hour format was decided upon for the race as it offered the
participants plenty of time to use all six drivers and for the pit teams
to fix problems that might arise during the race. It also presented the
teams with an interesting theoretical and actual challenge in balancing
speed against battery life. By allowing re-charging with a set limit of
charging rate as well as a top speed limit of 25 mph, further variables
were introduced. Whether the theory would balance out in practise was the
two cars from twenty schools, lined up at Goodwood on a sunny October
Sunday using a special half-mile circuit utilising the main straight and a
back route around the paddocks, the main circuit being considered too long
for both the untried cars and the whole formula of batteries and motors.
As it transpired the ‘formula’ was ideal with most of the cars making it through the six hours, albeit with many pit stops and visits to the paddock for repairs.
College, an independent boys school with some go-karting experience, took
the first two places with St. Bede’s School from Hailsham in third
place. Nineteen cars crossed the finish line, with one being carried over
by its pit crew!
event was covered by The Daily
Telegraph in the person of Andrew Baxter and a photographer. The large
colour front-page article in the Saturday Telegraph Motoring Supplement
two weeks later ‘launched’ Greenpower. Read by hundreds of thousands
of Telegraph readers interest came in from all over the country and the
exposure did much to help sponsors come forward to support a second event
in 2000. The event was finally supported by Sussex Enterprise, Lucas, The
Institute of Mechanical Engineers, The Ford Motor Company and The British
Wind Energy Association.
Enterprise continued its support for the 2000 event along with The
Campaign to Promote Engineering, a partnership between the DTI and
industry, Lucas and Ford. The entry had now increased to over fifty cars
with some coming in from outside of Sussex. Three events were held in July
and the top cars went forward to a final at Goodwood, again in October.
This time twenty-six cars lined up and St. Bede’s car ‘The Eagle’,
third in 1999, came home first. Average speeds were up and the overall
durability of the cars had improved greatly. In 2000 The Daily Telegraph
ran a number of articles on the events and donated the Awards for Best
Presented Car. Further support for 2001 was pledged by both Ford and the
CPE but Lucas, now under new ownership, were unable to continue with their
support. However, such was the level of interest that invitations were put
out in mid-2000 for the 2001 campaign and the name Ford Greenpower 2001
was adopted for the series of six-hour races.
international event was held at Arlington Speedway Circuit near Eastbourne
in September when eight schools from the Seine-Maritime area of northern
France competed against top cars from Sussex.
well over one hundred entries for 2001 it was deemed necessary to organise
the first events outside of Sussex and heats were held in Dorset at UKAEA
Winfrith, West Midlands at RAF Cosford, East Midlands at Landrover
Gaydon, West of England at Swindon, and Kent at BAe Systems, Rochester.
‘Last Chance Grand Prix’ was also held at South Cerney in
Gloucestershire for those teams who had missed their heats or who felt
that they could do better. It provided the ‘last chance’ to qualify
for the finals at Goodwood.
year the full lap of Goodwood was used for the final and the first one
hundred mile race distances were now on the cards. The year also saw the
development and appearance of a new breed of streamlined, driver reclining
cars that were to show the way for the future. Equipe Bigenor, a private
team entered by Jeremy Way, built EB6 as a GCSE project and walked away
with the prizes setting hugely improved new distance records with 150
miles now being exceeded. The Daily Telegraph once again carried a full
race report in its motoring Supplement.
first sprint event was held at the Arlington facility and cars raced each
other over ten lap heats around the four hundred-meter circuit. Speed, not
endurance being now the essence. This gave a different breed of car a
chance to shine an explored the ability of teams to adjust gearing to suit
went into 2002 with the support of the CPE, The Telegraph and Ford as well
as a number of regional backers who helped support the various heats. In
particular SEEBOARD Energy took over from Sussex Enterprise for the Sussex
heat and Castrol sponsored the first Thames Valley heat. Cars were getting
progressively better as teams looked at how the successful cars were
designed and a large number of very low cars began to appear and lightness
of chassis and smallness of drivers became watchwords.
over 200 entries the year was the most successful to date and all the
heats enjoyed great conditions. This all came unstuck at the October final
at Goodwood when the heavens opened and the wind blew on the sixty-six
strong field. This resulted in the race having to be shortened to four
hours. A new champion was proclaimed, St. Philip Howard Catholic High
School from nearby Barnham in West Sussex whose fourth year in the
competition saw their new car ‘The Boys R Back’, beating the seemingly
the extra reward for all the effort was a prime position at the Motor Show
at the NEC where it was displayed right by the Jaguars and Aston Martin
2003 an increased range of regional heats saw almost full coverage of
England with new races being held in Manchester and Bedford. As usual
sixty-six cars were selected for the finals on the basis of distances
traveled in the heats and this time the weather was sunny and ‘The Boys
R Back’ successfully defended its title and recorded a new record of one
hundred and sixty two miles in the race. New cars appeared and for the
first time the dominance of Sussex cars looked under threat as Wymondham
College’s Lotus assisted, new car took poll position for the final.
However it could only manage sixth but the writing was on the wall. The
most notable result of the final was the continual success of the
‘Wealdos’ wood and rayon car from The Weald School from Billingshurst,
West Sussex. Their record of a podium finish in every final since their
first race in 2000 will take some beating!
Greenpower 2004 has started eventfully with the opening sprint event at
Crawley Sports Centre being won for the first time by a car from outside
of Sussex. Furze Platt School from Maidenhead used all the heats to slowly
improve the speed of their car until it reached optimum performance in the
final and ran away with it. With Chatham House School in second place
‘The Boys R Back’ last year’s top car, was relegated to third place.
The highly successful 2004 season is now complete, with new records being set at the Formula 24 final, and we can now look forward to 2005 when we are planning to hold the first regional heats in Wales and Scotland.
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