Greenpower Racing Team at Dunsfold Park
Sunday 27th October saw a 6am start for the Greenpower Racing Car Team. After months of Design and Technology, highs and lows, we were off to Dunsfold Park to race the St Edmund’s built, battery powered car on the same track that has seen the Stig put ‘pedal to the metal’.
As we made our way around the M25, with our car, ‘Fast Eddie’, in the back of the school mini bus, we were not even sure if our car would pass the scrutineering process.
As we pulled up at the venue, we were faced with the competition. We were up against some very serious contenders with a great deal of high specification design and technology. Would Fast Eddie make the grade?
We pushed the car into the scrutineering area…. It was tense. The chief scrutineer had an extensive check list. We waited and looked on as he tugged at cables, checked the height of the roll bar and so on. He wanted to see a driver in the car, so Zac Rees-Mawson jumped in. The chief checked for visibility in the rear view mirrors….. The tension was building. It was all looking good as the ticks in the boxes started to mount up. Then, as the clouds gathered, a couple of the boxes remained empty. The scrutineer was not happy with the position of the seatbelt straps and could not give us a pass. If we could re-position them within half an hour we could try again. With that, we got Fast Eddie back to the car park to rectify this quickly.
Remaining positive, the team listened carefully to the briefing given by Jeremy the clerk. He explained penalty points and went through the health and safety pit stop rules. We then walked the track, still unsure if we would even get our tyres dirty.
One thing was certain, we looked good in our red overalls, proudly sporting the St Edmund’s logo on the back. We were wearing Top Gear!
Fast Eddie returned with re-positioned seat belts and as we waited in a hopeful silence, the St Edmund’s Greenpower racing car………. passed. We had qualified……. We had a sticker to prove it. The team had miles of smiles…..but would we have enough time for everyone to take it for a test drive? Up until this point, we had only driven Fast Eddie around the tennis courts.
At 9.30am, the sun was breaking through and our car was on the grid and good to go. Once again, tense moments… until we saw Fast Eddie speed off under battery power. The energy amongst the team was electric! The car whizzed round the track with ease, many, many times. Fast Eddie was looking good.
The 4 hour endurance race was to start at 1 o’clock, and with that in mind the team had their own pit stop in preparation, refuelling with sandwiches and crisps.
At 12.45, we learned that the impressive speed that we had gained during the 9.30 test drive had placed Fast Eddie in the first half of the grid….. We took position, the pit stop crew and our dedicated supporters looked on.
At 1 o’clock the fog horn sounded and Fast Eddie took off with a great start, making it pass The Tyre Wall and showing good grip around Hammerhead Bend. The team looked on.…but there was trouble ahead…..The car slowed down and at one point stopped completely. Was a recovery vehicle needed?……..We looked on as Fast Eddie recovered and picked up speed…..only to slow down again……Fast Eddie was in trouble…..The Pit Stop crew were ready……We had new batteries waiting, we just needed to get Fast Eddie off the grid and back to the pits. The car made it and the team got to work, no battery change needed, a few adjustments to the gears and St Ed’s were back on the track……we were looking good again, cornering like it was ‘on rails’ as Fast Eddie made it around the track 6 more times until the car showed signs of slowing down again. Soon the car was stationary going nowhere. Somehow, Reza got it moving again and drove the car with his nerves of steel off the track to No Man’s Land between the grid and the pits.
Here Oscar Roberts, Will Kirsch-Mills and George Gibbon were ready for a battery change but it was no use, Fast Eddie’s motor was burning out and we could smell it. Ice packs were used to try and cool it down but Fast Eddie was too tired to continue. The motor had overheated due to the gearing ratio and now we need to design and build a new component in order to solve this problem for 2014.
And on that bombshell…………..