NCHS-East EV Rally planned for mid-October

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2004

JACKSON – Danny Johnson, ASE Certified Master Technician and instructor for Northampton County High School-East’s N.E.A.T. group, is once again looking forward to seeing his class participate in the annual electric vehicle competition.

Having begun with four high schools in Halifax County and Weldon in 1993 as Electric Cars of Roanoke Valley (ECORV) it developed into what is know today as the Northampton East Automotive Team or N.E.A.T as a result of a lack in funding in 1995. However, despite financial challenges and other setbacks this years’ event will mark the group’s ninth annual competition.

For those yet unfamiliar with electric vehicles, N.E.A.T. members desire to educate the community on the benefits of alternative transportation, especially the benefits they have on the environment.

&uot;Many people don’t realize the environmental benefits of electric vehicles,&uot; said Lucas Turner, a team member for the past three years.

&uot;Electric cars are quiet, which means they don’t contribute to noise pollution and they eliminate exhaust emissions and help us to preserve our natural resources while benefiting electric utilities.&uot;

&uot;These vehicles benefit the environment,&uot; stated another three-year program veteran Michael Davis, &uot;because they don’t use any harmful input fluids like gasoline or oil and they are highly efficient.&uot;

Other classes, such as English, art, agri-science and natural resources are also working in a concerted joint effort to promote the furtherance of a technology to help preserve the environment.

In a 2003 article written by former N.E.A.T. member Heather Ferguson stated that air pollution caused by gas-powered vehicles was to blame for taking the lives of 150 people each day totaling approximately 70,000 people each year, who die because of harmful environmental contaminants with the numbers continuing to rise.

&uot;By eliminating exhaust emissions, we can avoid the consequences of global warming, which will include raised ocean levels,&uot; said Ferguson in a previous interview. &uot;Over an extended period of time, if nothing is done, parts of the earth could be rendered uninhabitable.&uot;

Costing approximately $5,000 to convert from gas to electric, the vehicles hold 12-20 batteries and can reach the same speeds as the average gas-powered car.

&uot;In order to qualify for the competition, the cars have to stay below the gross vehicle weight,&uot; said Turner, sharing that each battery weighs about 74 pounds each.

&uot;We’re really excited about the event,&uot; said two-year team member John Evrett. &uot;I didn’t think I was up to it because the cars we have now are different than what we had before, but we’re working hard to pull it together.&uot;

With about two weeks left to the event, the group has had to stay after school, sacrificing some of their own time on weekends to prepare for the event.

&uot;Since the state budget deficit resulted in our funds being cut,&uot; explained Johnson, &uot;it left us with the challenge of accomplishing what we would traditionally be able to do during the course of a year in a six-month squeeze.&uot;

According to Johnson, 27 schools are expected to compete in the event, which is scheduled to take place at the Tri-County Airport on October 15-16.

&uot;The real challenge is going to be competing against schools who have had the entire year to prepare,&uot; said Davis.

However, for a team who built a car that holds the national record for range, Johnson is confident that his group will exceed his expectations.

&uot;I think they’ll surprise themselves,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ve put a lot of time and energy into this.&uot;

The group is currently comprised of 12 members and relies heavily on fundraisers and donations to keep the program afloat.

&uot;When people come out this year, they’ll see a lot of nice looking cars,&uot; said Davis, &uot;and I think you will enjoy what you see.&uot; Last year approximately 400 people attended the event.

Registration begins Friday, October 15 at 9 a.m. with inspection at 9:15 a.m. and pit crew at 10:30 a.m. followed by a cookout lunch at noon and closing with the acceleration event at 1 p.m.

The EV Knowledge event is scheduled the following day at 10 a.m. with range competition set for 10:15. Trophies for range will be distributed at 11:30 a.m.

For more information about the program contact Danny Johnson at 252-535-0627. You may also visit for more information about the electric vehicle challenge portion of the event.