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News Section: Schools and Education

Braden River High School F1 Racing Team Headed to World Championship

Published Saturday, June 2, 2012 2:00 am
Aly Cote, Mario Palmer, Kali Hoying and Jeremy Petty received second overall at the Formula One in Schools National Championship in Michigan.

BRADENTON – The F1 Racing in Schools program could be compared to the pinewood derby car race you participated in as a Cub Scout - only these model cars are on steroids. Although the former utilizes the same principles as the derby car racing, it allows teams to implement other highly-technical engineering procedures. Instead of gravity-driven propulsion, F1 racers are powered by C02 cartridges and designed with state of the art computer programs – making derby car racing look like child’s play.

After winning second place overall in the Formula One in Schools National Championship at Michigan International Speedway in May, Braden River’s Pirate Racing Team prepares for the World Finals next October in Abu Dhabi. They are the only F1 racing team in the state.

Traveling 8,000 miles to compete won’t be easy, it’s up to the team to raise the $40,000 needed to get there. In addition to applying science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, students must be proficient in marketing, web design and accounting.


“America is way behind when it comes to STEM curriculum,” said Margi Nanney, the team advisor. “We need to do more to stimulate students to become involved in programs like this. There is a shortage of engineers, especially females. This program is a starting point for those students who want to get ahead in that field, but it also teaches those responsibilities that can be applied to almost any career path.”


The F1 in schools is now the largest global platform for STEM in students age 9-19; it is practiced in over 40 countries. Every year, an international event is held for middle and high school students to design and manufacture identical, miniature, CO2-powered balsa wood F1 race cars. The competition started in 2001 and has continued to grow ever since.


Members of the Pirate Racing team have major responsibilities. Team Manager, Kali Hoying, coordinates all aspects of the project. She also contacts and follows up with sponsors.


“Being able to manage the team and really work with them has definitely helped me to learn how to make decisions without hesitation and step up to the challenge,” said Hoying.


Design engineer Jeremy Petty; produced the race car prototype using SolidWorks, a three-dimensional CAD program, and also conducted virtual tests to determine the drag, lift, and down force of the car. Mario Palmer, the graphic designer, created a Pirate Racing’s portfolio, business cards, brochure, and the website. The manufacturing engineer also happens to the youngest member, Aly Cote, prepared and assembled the cars using a software program called CamWorks. Then she made sure that the machine worked perfectly and the cars came out exactly how they were designed.


“This isn’t a program for students who aren’t motivated,” said Nanney. “It’s a lot of work and students must take on responsible roles to be productive.”


The majority of the students came through Braden River High School’s engineering program, but because of the extensiveness of the program, their ages and schools vary. The Boys and Girls Club helped fund the equipment five years ago as part of an afterschool program at Southeast High School.


In 2010, the Southeast team, Unitus, became the first team in the history to gain two podium finishes, won the world title in Singapore and finished in third place overall at the 2011 event which concluded at the Hilton Doubletree in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


“The fact that I get to travel out of the U.S. to Abu Dhabi is just really amazing,” said Hoying. “Meeting all the teams from around the world and the whole overall experience is what motivates us to work hard. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it is well worth the effort.”


If you would like to sponsor the Pirate Racing Team, please follow the link.

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