E-cars roll across Cascade Locks


News staff writer

April 12, 2006

With the whoosh of rubber tires on wet pavement drowned to a whisper by the pounding of rain on everything under the clouds, Saturday morning’s electrathon race in Cascade Locks brought 27 racers into some of the worst spring weather the Gorge can dish out.

Although electric car components don’t mind the rain, drivers’ seats are usually open-air to reduce weight and wind resistance.

Needless to say, drivers were soaked to the bone after the most-laps-in-an-hour race around the Cascade Locks Marine Park.

The winning car, designed and built by students from Willamette High School, completed 53 half-mile laps in the given hour. At 51 laps was Hood River Valley High School racer Kevin Dye, who finished fifth overall in his low-sitting three-wheeler. Also racing from Hood River were students Cory Castro and Jeff Emmerson, who finished 12th and 13th respectively.

The Hood River racers designed and built their cars in a HRVHS class called applied engineering. Electrathon specifications require all cars to use the same electric motor, which runs off of two 12-volt car batteries. Materials and designs are entirely up to individual builders.

“Despite the rain, it was a fun race,” Castro said. “We’ve been building these cars since the beginning of the year and it’s great to finally get to race them … I can’t speak for everyone but I think we all had a pretty good time even though we were completely soaked by the end of the race.”

Instructor Jeff Blackman is in charge of the program at HRVHS.

“This is the best group of kids I’ve had,” Blackman said. “The kids are really motivated and they are becoming independent with troubleshooting and improvising. My goal is to have the class be completely independent of me so they can basically fix anything that might come up at a race … This is a major project for these kids. And it’s like someone once said, ‘There’s a million ways to get it wrong and only one way to get it right.’”

The HRVHS fleet of four vehicles will race six more times this spring at Electrathon competitions in Eugene, Pasco, Longview, Mapleton and the season finale at the Portland International Raceway.

Blackman and the class are currently looking for car sponsors, which can have a business logo displayed on the sponsored car. If interested, e-mail Blackman at:


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