Driver goes for wild ride at High Plains ElectroRally
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The name of Chuck Ellis' elective class for building electric cars at Scott Community High School in Scott City is called Design-Discovery.
"It's based around the designing of the vehicle and discovering all the problems you can have with the vehicle," Ellis said.
Senior Josh Yeager discovered one of those problems Thursday.
Yeager was near the front of the pack in the second race of the 14th annual High Plains ElectroRally in Hays when he had to pull over after one of his cables came unscrewed.
When he returned to the track at West Frontier Park, Yeager was trying to chase down the leaders when he took one of the turns too fast and rolled twice onto the grass just off the track.
"We knew he was behind by about eight minutes," Ellis said. "So we knew he had to speed up."
When Yeager approached the turn of nearly 90 degrees on the southeast corner of the track, "he started the turn too narrow and ended up too wide," Ellis said. "After that, he was along for the ride."
The unexpected detour didn't seem to faze Yeager physically, who popped up out of the car and walked away unharmed.
But, Ellis said, "he feels bad because he tore up the car."
Ellis said he "isn't upset" with his student, though.
"It's a learning thing," Ellis said. "It's a different type of learning than kids do at school. It's not like missing a problem in a math class. A miscalculation with these cars has a lot different consequences. That's part of what makes this an interesting course."
Safety is a top priority when building the cars, Ellis said.
"We try to build them as safe as we can," he said. "They have the five-point harness and the roll bars that cover (the driver's) head and shoulders."
But, he added, "they have increased the size of the batteries the last 10 years or so, and the cars can go faster. Now we have a few problems staying on the track."
Ellis said he wasn't sure how much damage the car sustained but he and his students will check it out today and hopefully get it ready in time for the team's next race Oct. 5 at Hanston.
"The body is beat up," Ellis said. "But I would be surprised if (the car) is damaged enough that we can't fix it. We'll unload it and take the body off it and make a real close inspection. If it's really screwed up, we have another frame up on the shelf. We'll get it ready and be ready to go Saturday."