Electric cars power up at HRVHS

The Hood River Valley High School parking lot was turned into a race course Saturday for an Electrathon America-sanctioned electric car race. Hosted by the HRVHS electric car program, the race attracted more than 36 teams from around Oregon and Washington.

Race organizer Jeff Blackman created a quarter-mile-long course, barricaded by orange cones and tires. Two hour-long races were held, with the winning cars completing the most laps in the designated time. Each car had to meet certain specifications, including battery and driver weight limits.

Hood River Valley High entered two cars in the race. One of them, driven by HRVHS senior Cory Olsen, completed the hour-long race with 69 laps — nine laps behind the winner, from Willamette High School. The other car, driven by HRVHS senior Tracy Snapp, ran out of battery power after 44 laps.

“We were very pleased with both of them,” Blackman said. “I thought they both did really good.”

The crowd of onlookers was treated to a wide variety of interesting-looking cars whizzing by — all of them hand-built by high school students. The cars ranged from a fully-enclosed “bat mobile” to open-air go-carts. By half-way through the first race, the 16 cars that had started had been pared down to 12. With 15 minutes left, many of the cars were beginning to slow down as batteries were drained. Some suffered mechanical break-downs or other malfunctions.

But it was all in the spirit of fun — and improvement.

“We’ve been doing steadily better each race,” Blackman said. This was the fourth race of the season out of a total of eight. The teams are working on modifications to their cars this week in preparation for next weekend’s race in Gresham. For information about the electric car program, contact Jeff Blackman at jblackman@hoodriver.k12.or.us.

Sponsors of the HRVHS electric car program are Franz Hardware, Napa Auto Parts, E & L Auto, D & S Auto Body, Discover Bicycles, Mountain View Bikes and Les Schwab Tire Center.

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