Pushing the Limits of
Efficiency: Electric racers
try for 50 mph with one horsepower 2004!
Britain's 1st school electrathon motor race on Goodwood circuit
weeks ago, while the grand panjandrums of Formula One tried to decide
whether rules were more important than revenues (or was it vice versa?) a
rather more inspiring form of motorsport made its debut in West Sussex.
Britain's first electric motor race for schools got off
to a flying start as hundreds of pupils with battery-powered single-seaters
converged on the historic Goodwood circuit for a 5 3/4 -hour endurance
The event was judged so successful that the Greenpower Electric Car
Marathon is now expected to become an annual fixture. Organisers
Sussex Enterprise, a training initiative funded by the Department of Trade
and Industry and backed by Ford, Daewoo and Lucas, whose aim is to promote
engineering and technology as serious career options, say
that they are already planning a Millennium marathon in July next
As reported in Telegraph Motoring on October 16, many of the Sussex
schools involved had opened through the summer holidays, allowing their
pupils to burn copious quantities of midnight oil to get their machines
finished on time. And although electric cars are quiet by
nature, the event itself was full of thrills and spills as the drivers,
all aged 13-16, pushed their 25mph rechargeable racers to the limit on a
half-mile paddock circuit.
The battle of the sexes was fiercely fought, even though some boys
appeared to more interested in chat-up lines in the pit lane than racing
lines out on the track. But it was Roedean School for Girls that was twice
penalised and ordered to park for 10 minutes in the
"sin bin" for reckless driving. Driver Saskia Boxford, aged 13,
revealed a talent for race analysis that would do credit to McLaren or
Ferrari: "We were going quite fast and it was really exciting
overtaking, but the boys wouldn't let us past," she claimed.
The marshals' yellow flags came out for several minor collisions including
one involving Roedean's F1-style entry and a car from Davidson Church of
England High School for Girls in Worthing, which lost a wheel as they made
contact on a bend.
"Some of them think they are Michael Schumacher!" said race
organiser Barry Shears of Sussex Enterprise. "We were worried there
might be a lot of shunts, but none of the accidents seem to have been
Only three of the 23 starters was forced to retire early - one, from
Frewen College, Rye, smashed through a fence - but no one suffered much
more than injured pride.
Hayley Fruer, aged 15, of Uckfield Community College, was nursing a cut
lip and slight bruising after a crash caused by a seized drive chain, but
she was more concerned about her machine, which had to be welded back
together again before going on to complete 80 laps. "All I could
think was, `My God - I've totalled the car'," she said.
The on-track rivalry was as intense as any grand prix, but Eastbourne
College, an independent mixed school that entered two teams of boys,
eventually emerged as the runaway winner, clinching first and second
places. The college took overall victory and a cheque for pounds 500
with a modified racing kart that completed 170 laps - some 85 miles - at
an average of 14.8mph. Six laps behind was the school's second entry -
named "Stealth" because it resembled the American bomber. Made
from three BMX bicycles, it lifted the prize for the fastest lap.
Stealth team manager Paddy Dane, 17, displayed a mature and sporting
approach in the post-race interview. "It's the spirit of the event
that's important - not just the winning," he said. "It's great
to be given the opportunity to do something we wouldn't have done
Wayne Trinder, Eastbourne College's head of design and technology, was
bursting with pride. "I am absolutely delighted," he said.
"We were quietly confident, but we never expected to get both the
speed and the endurance prizes. We'll certainly be back next year to
Also in contention for much of the race was a mixed team from St Bedes
independent school at Upper Dicker, near Hailsham, which managed 156 laps
at an average of 13.6mph. Team manager Oliver Perrot, a 15-year-old
aspiring car designer, said: "We didn't have enough time
before the event to get everything just right, so I'm really
pleased. The only problem was that the car was getting slower the
longer the race went on."
The highest placed girls' team was from Heathland School in Hounslow, west
London, with another kart-based machine that completed 120 laps at an
average 10.4mph and was one of six all-female entries sponsored by Ford.
Harvey Nichols, head of craft, design and technology at the school,
enthused about the opportunity that the event had given his pupils.
"It's not often the girls get a chance like this," he said.
"A lot of the boys wanted to take part and normally they would have
Lauren Rickards, a 16-year-old driver for the second-placed girls' team
from St Phillip Howard Catholic High in Barnham, near Chichester, admitted
she hadn't previously been interested in engineering, but added: "It
has been really, really fun and will look good on my record of
The event was also voted a success by former Conservative transport
secretary Lord Young, who handed out prizes. "It just goes to show
what young people can do given the right incentives," he said.
Donald Wales, grandson of the land-speed record breaker Sir Malcolm
Campbell, who has launched an attempt to break the world speed record for
an electric vehicle, was also present. "It is important to get kids
involved in cars that could be the vehicles of the future," he
said. "This was an excellent event - especially because
everyone seems to have had so much fun." Perhaps they should give
Bernie Ecclestone a copy of the regulations.
| About | News
| Calendar | Kits
| Sponsors | Contacts
| GP Index | Design
Archives | Design
a Car/Tips | Specification
Board | Entry Forms
Yapton Road, Climping
West Sussex, BN17 5RU
Important Information for those who have
entered the 2005 F24 series. See
- Enter the 2005 series online
now - 2 CD set of photos of final now
Winter Competition - win yourself a motor
the Telegraph articles on previous UK events
Electrathon info at: www.electrathonnewengland.org &