Manti Greenpower getting ready for the races
MANTI—Big things are in store for the Greenpower race team of Manti High School, who are looking for support from everyone in the community.
After taking first place in the GearUp competition at Utah Motorsports Park last year, Manti’s Greenpower racing team has qualified to attend a national competition set at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500.
“Not only is this fun and exciting,” team manager Tina Pierson said, “but it is a great career builder for all the students involved.”
GreenpowerUSA, part of the international Greenpower Educational Trust Fund, is designed to inspire children and young adults to pursue engineering with a focus on renewable energy. Events are held throughout the year where teams race handmade Formula-24 electric cars against each other. The Greenpower Challenge began in the U.K. in 1999 and is still running there in over 600 schools. It extended to the U.S. in 2014.
Manti’s red, single-seater, battery-powered race car has paved the way for the nine students involved to build a strong skill set in mechanical engineering, having taken first in Utah two years in a row. The team is coached by Ben Schoppe, an instructor of vocational education at Manti.
Team member Bradon Owens says that the team is planning to research new designs to build a new and better car for coming competitions. Manti’s team has shown themselves to be innovators of the sport as their original car’s transmission design was emulated by Greenpower for their other kits to purchase a year ago.
Their current car tops out at a reported 23 miles per hour, but that’s isn’t all that matters. While one of their races is about speed, their other event focuses primarily on longevity. “There’s the 90-minute race where you just try to last the full 90 minutes,” team member Grayson Pierson said. “The whole time, we don’t change out the batteries.” Four of this type of race will be held at Nationals.
The team now has the chance to represent all of Utah at the legendary Indy track on May 1, of this year. However, there is a price for participation. To transport and house the team, leaders, and the car itself, Pierson states that approximately $12,000 in funds will be required.
The team is actively pursuing sponsors and supporters to further the cause of getting the team to the competition. Pierson began a campaign on the popular crowdfunding website GoFundMe to raise a significant fraction of the sum. Most recent reports show that the team’s GoFundMe account has raised nearly $500, far below where they hope to be by May. To make matters tougher for them, the competition was moved to May 1 from its original date of May 24.
The team is also seeking corporate sponsorships from local businesses to aid in the majority of their expenses.
Three members of the Greenpower team are seniors at Manti, thus making a trip a week-long hiatus in the last month of secondary school.
“For me, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Owens said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get the opportunity to go to the Indy 500 track. I’ve talked to my teachers, and they’ve said they’ll let me catch up on things.”
“We’re delighted anytime we can engage young people here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and this opportunity to build a car alongside a driver is an especially wonderful opportunity,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said. “We value Greenpower’s goal of linking education, industry and community through inspirational engineering projects.”
The trust fund also presents the possibility of future scholarship opportunities in engineering and physics for the young students. “It’s a resume builder,” Pierson said.
Provided that the team makes it to Indianapolis, if they perform well there, they will have the opportunity to take their car to the international level in 2018 in the U.K.
“Electric powered cars are the wave of the future, and our kids will have a tremendous item on their resumes along with a wealth of knowledge from this hands-on experience,” Pierson said. “These students have a lot of work ahead of them. Every donation from friends, family and our community gets us one step closer to our goal. Thank you all for our support.”