NEAT hosts EV Rally

Published 9:43 am Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ST. JOHN — This year’s electric vehicle rally proved to be successful for the Northampton East Automotive Team (N.E.A.T.).

The team took home three first place trophies from the electric vehicle rally they hosted Friday and Saturday at Tri-County Airport.

The Northampton County High School-East based team competed against other electric vehicle teams from across North Carolina and Virginia, including Topsail High School in Hempstead, James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, Central Shenandoah High School in Woodstock, Va. and Northern Vance High School in Henderson.

N.E.A.T. had two vehicles in the competition this year, the “Shocker II,” a Ford Escort and a red pick-up truck. The team took home first place trophies in the pit crew challenge, trouble shooting event and truck class range event. Other events included autocross and acceleration.

The rally, in its 13th year, continues the legacy of a program that began at Northampton County High School-East in 1993, first taking shape with instructors Harold Miller and Eric Ryan.

“We started this in 1993 and everyone was laughing at us,” said Miller who attended the rally.

Back then, the idea of an electric vehicle was a far cry from the “Green” wave of today. Miller noted the students’ work on electric vehicles ensures a better future for everyone.

“Our future will be cleaner,” he said.

Over the years the program has gotten smaller, but the students work just as hard.

According to current instructor Danny Johnson, his students work out every detail for the rally as well as prepare their own vehicles to compete.

“There’s really a lot that goes into it,” he said. “They’re on the phone a lot; they shop around for the best prices; they sit down and come up with rules.”

And when errors are made, it’s yet another life-lesson for the students.

“They make mistakes, but they learn from them,” he said.

Local officials and parents came out in support of the students and an array of local sponsors made donations for the rally.

On Saturday, the favorable weather tended to agree with the participants and their supporters as the competitions for trouble shooting and range were held.

The trouble shooting event went smoothly with N.E.A.T. nabbing the top spot. During the range event, a plane landing on the runway placed the competition on hold for a bit. The range event winner is determined by which vehicle lasts the longest on a single charge and is not passed by a pace truck that sets the speed for the vehicles.

Nearing the end of the range event, N.E.A.T. junior Michele Perry of Pendleton was unable to hold off from being lapped by the pace truck, leaving Topsail High School to claim first.

Perry, one of the handful of female students on the team, said participating in the event gives her a sense of empowerment as a female and makes her ponder the notion of one day pursuing a career in the automotive field.

“I think I might…I’m kind of iffy about it,” she said. “I’m a hard worker; I’m kinesthetic and I can’t sit still in an office.”

Perry, along with fellow classmate, Tevin Scales of Rich Square agreed teamwork and hard work was the keys to making the rally a success.

Scales said he wants to go into electrical engineering and first heard about the class during automotive technology where Johnson suggested he enroll in the class.

The senior said often times after school work was required to pull the rally all together.

“The class is 90 minutes long, nowhere enough time to get everything done,” he said.

The students’ hard work paid off as regular competitors came back this year to participate.

Byron Humphries, an instructor with Central Shenandoah High School, said students in his electric vehicle program have competed since the rally began.

“It’s been lovely,” he said. “They’re always bending over backwards to have us here…it takes a lot of time to (put) one of them together,”

Humphries said electric vehicle programs create “powerful students” and a lot of graduates from his class are currently working in the field.

“It’s great education (to come here to the rally),” he said. “It’s a place they can come to test their engineering and workmanship.”

Results from the rally are listed below.


Truck class

1st James B. Dudley High School (65.0)

2nd N.E.A.T. (66.5)

3rd Northern Vance High School (75.5)

Modified class

1st Topsail High School (46.8)

2nd Northern Vance High School (53.4)

3rd Central Shenandoah High School

Pit Crew Challenge:

1st N.E.A.T.

2nd N.E.A.T. (with a second vehicle entry)

3rd Northern Vance High School


Truck class

1st James B. Dudley High School

2nd N.E.A.T.

3rd Northern Vance High School

Modified class

1st Topsail High School

2nd Central Shenandoah High School

3rd N.E.A.T.

Trouble Shooting:

1st N.E.A.T.

2nd Topsail High School

3rd Central Shenandoah High School

Range Event:

Truck class

1st N.E.A.T.

2nd James B. Dudley High School

Modified class

1st Topsail High School

2nd N.E.A.T.

3rd Central Shenandoah High School