A block of downtown Hood River streets will be closed for a few hours Saturday morning as racers from across the state compete in the annual Hood River Apple Open Electrathon Car Rally. The race, of high school students and adults, will take place on a half-mile stretch of street in the Columbia/Industrial Avenue area of town circling the Full Sail Brewing building.
Representing Hood River Valley High School’s advanced engineering class will be six teams of students who designed and constructed their own cars over the last few months. The race is an hour long — from 11 a.m. to noon — and racers have the hour to complete as many laps as possible without running out of battery power.
“This is our second race of the season and it was made possible thanks to Rosauers’ School Aid program,” said teacher Jeff Blackman. “Our former sponsor for the race pulled out this year and we wouldn’t have been able to hold the race without School Aid. What a great program that is.”
Students in Blackman’s class compete in six races this spring in the Electrathon America series, with the finale race held at Portland International Raceway. All the needed parts and design concepts are available to the students, but it was up to individual teams to design and build each of the six cars. Teams then choose a driver for each race to hit the streets and test their designs.
For Adam McCaw, a one-person-team, racing the car is by far his favorite part of the project.
“Racing is addictive for me,” he said. “I raced soapbox derby when I was a kid and this is an extension of that. The feeling I get from racing is addictive. I get in the car, relax and focus on racing. It’s tons of fun.”
McCaw said in the first race of the season his car reached the 30-35 mph range. Drivers have to balance the desire for speed with efficiency, which will be especially relevant with the Hood River course, which has uphill and downhill sections; each requires differing strategies.
Practice will run from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and the race will start at 11 a.m.
The track is just over half a mile long.
, runs on Columbia Street, a short section of Seventh Street and Industrial Avenue to loop back around to Columbia.