Shell Eco-Marathon: Going Up Against the Big Boys, And Early Struggles

By Andrew Moseman | March 27, 2010 12:49 pm

DurandBesides the slew of large universities, there’s also a contingent of plucky high school teams competing here at the Eco-marathon. Though for some the first morning has been a struggle.

Tiny Durand High School from Wisconsin boasts the only ethanol vehicle in the field. But it wasn’t the engine that kept them from completing the course. With another car on the right, Durand’s driver got too close to the inside curb on turn one and clipped it, then the other car, leaving both of them stuck.

For Durand coach Bill Rieger, it was a heartbreaker. “I want to cry right now,” he said, because the team was so close to putting results on the board. Once the car completes 10 laps, race officials make the official mileage measurements. But Durand’s #50 car completed only 7, and there are no pro-rated measurements. The 50 car is custom-built, so it won’t be an easy fix to get it ready for the later trial runs. “We need to find a bike shop and see if we can bend our spindles back,” Rieger says.

Grand RapidsHope isn’t lost: the students from Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota tell DISCOVER that despite the competition, the teams help each other out. Still, the high school students want badly to succeed, and especially out-do the college teams. Grand Rapids took 7th overall last year. This year started slower for them, as their morning session run made only a single lap. But they’re still hopeful, saying the new gasoline engine this year could achieve 700 miles per gallon.

Note: The initial post suggests that Durand was at fault in the accident, when in fact the car on the right in the above image, belonging to Northern Arizona University, saw a brake lock up that caused the two-car collision. It wasn’t our intention to besmirch the driving talents of Durand High. And Northern Arizona, in a show of true Eco-marathon sportsmanship, offered Durand’s crew cookies as a peace offering. In the end, both teams completed successful runs, with NAU posting 761 MPG.


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