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‘Green’ Machines!

Harold Miller, the founder (now retired) of the Northampton East Automotive Team, waves the green flag, prompting the drivers of the vehicles shown here to begin the next round of competition at this past weekend’s NEAT Rally.

GARYSBURG — A different year brought a new venue and faces for the annual Northampton East Automotive Team (NEAT) Electric Vehicle Rally.

On Friday and Saturday, NEAT, based at Northampton County High School-East, held its 14th annual event, this year at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR).

NCCAR’s world-class two-mile test track and facilities proved to be the perfect place to hold the electric vehicle competition that features high schools from across North Carolina and Virginia.

According to first year NEAT Instructor Thomas Pope, the rally was the one largest yet with multiple vehicle entrants from the seven high schools involved, including Topsail High School in Hempstead, James B. Dudley High School and Weaver Academy in Greensboro, Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School in Fishersville, Va., Northern Vance High School in Henderson and West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek.

This year’s rally offered more events for the competitors. While there were traditional offerings such as the pit crew challenge, trouble shooting, autocross, acceleration and range event, there were some new competitions as well like a Jeopardy-like game that tested the students’ knowledge of electric vehicles and a poster competition.

Pope said the new location worked well for the rally and thanked NCCAR Chief Operating Officer Simon Cobb and Site Superintendent Sam True.

“This is set up the way we want,” Pope said about the facility. “Everybody’s been a big help.”

Pope said the client garages that are equipped with restrooms and galley kitchens were handy for the schools staying overnight.

“It was nice because they didn’t have to go out and get a hotel,” he said.

However, with a new venue came new safety rules. The students had to go through track safety and drivers’ meetings before the rally.

On Saturday, Cobb said he was having a lot of fun with the students.

“We’re very happy to do it,” he said about hosting the event. “This is what we’re about, getting school children involved.”

He said the facility will more than likely be hosting the event again next year.

At the NCCAR site, installation of Wi-Fi and video cameras on the track is being done. Once that is in place, Cobb said clients will be able to monitor what is going on at the testing track from anywhere.

Cobb added that by next year, NCCAR will also be vamping its website in order to post automotive events open to the public.

During the competition, NEAT nabbed five, third place finishes, two in the truck and modified classes for autocross, one in the acceleration truck class and range truck class, and another in the troubleshooting event. The team was triumphant in the range modified class, taking first place and celebrating with a victory lap.

Topsail High School captured the rally’s overall title.

The winners for the events are as follows:

Autocross:

96 volt car class

1st Northern Vance High School

2nd Weaver Academy

96 volt truck class

1st Topsail High School

2nd James B. Dudley High School

3rd NEAT

Modified class (cars with batteries above 96 volts)

1st West Wilkes High School

2nd Topsail High School

3rd NEAT

Acceleration:

96 volt car class

1st Northern Vance High School

2nd Weaver Academy

96 volt truck class

1st Topsail High School

2nd James B. Dudley High School

3rd NEAT

Modified class

1st Topsail High School

2nd West Wilkes High School

3rd Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School

Range:

96 volt car class

1st Weaver Academy

96 volt truck class

1st James B. Dudley High School

2nd Topsail High School

3rd NEAT

Modified class

1st NEAT

2nd Topsail High School

3rd James B. Dudley High School

Pit Crew competition:

1st West Wilkes High School

2nd Topsail High School

3rd Northern Vance High School

Troubleshooting:

1st Topsail High School

2nd West Wilkes High School

3rd NEAT

Poster competition:

1st James B. Dudley High School

2nd Topsail High School

E.V. Jeopardy competition:

1st Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School

2nd Topsail High School

Open class:

Ken Clayton

Design class:

Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School

Over all winner:

Topsail High School