Super Mileage Competition


Three Wabash Valley schools took to the race track Monday, competing to see who can build the most fuel efficient car.

Terre Haute South, Northview and Sullivan traveled to Indianapolis for the high school state competition.

It’s not your typical race. You’ll find bizarre-looking cars and a concept where faster doesn’t necessarily mean better.

“We are trying to figure out how much mileage we can get,” says Shelby Tisdale, a Northview Junior.

The competition has teams going 10 laps around a 5/8ths of a mile oval. Then, they calculate fuel mileage. When looking after fuel mileage, strategy is key.

“We gear it really low, so we can get up to speed as fast as we can, so that we don’t have to run around the track at full throttle,” says Billy Drappo, a Sullivan Senior.

“Whenever I get down to 12 miles an hour, I’ll speed up to 22 or 20 miles an hour,” Tisdale explains.

Teams can run as many times as they like. Their two best mileages will be averaged together. Many teams made many passes, not just tweaking their cars, but driving styles, due to the weather.

“We’ve had a pretty windy day, so we got here this morning, we started plotting out the track and how we were going to run,” Drappo says. “Part of the track, the wind is just pushing us along, so we don’t have to burn as much in part of it. We’ve just been getting killed by the wind.”

“What we really are trying to do is get more aerodynamic, so that I can cruise through without being affect by much wind or I will go further, without having to pull start and fire back up. Because our goal is to fire up, cruise as far as we can, before she has to fight it back up again,” says Calvin Lackey, a Northview Senior.

While you won’t be driving these cars on the road anytime soon, it’s the skills learned that make the difference; not just for the industry, but in the lives of all the students involved.

“It’s a really great teaching lesson for how to work an engine, how to rebuild, fix brakes, all the automotive expectations,” says Joshua Clinkenbeard, a Sophomore at South.

“There are so many of us around the car at one time that not everybody can do something,” explains Lackey. “So someone’s researching a fire suit that she’s wearing. Someone’s researching immaterial plastic that we use this year. So, someone is always doing something to help out, and it teaches teamwork.”

As for the results of the competition, Terre Haute South came in 3rd in Prototypes, Northview came in 2nd in Prototypes and Sullivan won 1st in the Developmental category.

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