EV Rally dodges wind, rain

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2004

AHOSKIE – Neither rain, wind or even an airplane on final approach could stop a &uot;NEAT&uot; occurrence from unfolding here this past weekend.

Despite wind-blown showers on Friday and an unexpected visit from an airplane on Saturday, the Northampton-East Automotive Team (N.E.A.T.) hosted their annual EV Rally at Tri-County Airport where six other schools joined the local students in a weekend crammed full of activities related to the Electric Vehicle (EV) program.

Danny Johnson, ASE Certified Master Technician and instructor for Northampton County High School-East’s N.E.A.T. group, said the effort put forth by students from each school provided a ray of sunshine on a cloudy weekend.

&uot;The kids did a wonderful job and each represented their respective schools in a first-class manner,&uot; stated Johnson. &uot;The bottom line in all of this was that the kids had fun, and that’s what it’s all about.&uot;

From a personal standpoint, Johnson praised the N.E.A.T. students for putting on what he called, &uot;a whale of a show.&uot;

&uot;Weeks and weeks of preparation went into this rally,&uot; he noted. &uot;My students handled all aspects of putting this thing together. Each was assigned a specific task and they were responsible for seeing that those responsibilities were carried out.&uot;

One of those students, Stacey Vick, said she was pleased with the way the event turned out, despite the weather.

&uot;Overall, things went great,&uot; she stressed. &uot;I thought everybody had a great time.&uot;

Teams came from as far away as Shenandoah Valley (Va.) and as close as NCHS-East and Roanoke Rapids High School. Other participating schools included Topsail, Southern Durham, West Carteret and Northern Vance.

Teams from each school vied for trophies in pit crew competition, acceleration, range and EV knowledge.

The pit crew competition was performed on the car of NASCAR Busch Series and Nextel Cup driver Hermie Sadler of Emporia, Va. There, each team faced the task of changing two tires and cleaning the windshield (which was covered with a Bisquick concoction).

Acceleration consisted of how fast the vehicles could travel, from a dead start, down a marked, eighth-mile course. Range was determined on how far the vehicles could travel prior to their batteries fully discharging. EV Knowledge was a written test, one that the NCHS-East students did not take since they devised the questions.

NCHS-East – with two vehicles entered, Shocker III and a Mazda truck donated to the team by Linwood Ward of Conway – captured five trophies. One was a first-place effort in range (car class). Two others were for second place in acceleration and range (both in the truck class).

The team placed third in the Pit Crew competition and third in (car) acceleration.

Another &uot;winner&uot; was Tri-County Airport, a facility that hosted this event for the first time.

&uot;The Joyners were simply wonderful people to work with,&uot; said Susie Johnson, Northampton County Community Schools Director, in reference to Henry and Betty Joyner who oversee the airport. &uot;They were very open to what we are doing with our EV program and expressed a desire to host this event again in the future.&uot;

The airport also provided one of its hangers to house the vehicles overnight.

N.E.A.T. was designed not only to seek out alternative fuel options, but also to educate the community on the benefits of alternative transportation, especially the benefits they have on the environment. Electric vehicles are an environmentally friendly method of transportation through zero exhaust emissions as well as a major reduction in noise pollution.

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.

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.

For more information concerning the N.E.A.T. program, one that operates basically on donations and fundraisers, contact Danny Johnson at 535-0627 or visit www.evchallenge.org.