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The Heart of E-Kart

Jess Melvin, Writer

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As part of the two-week festivities before the Indianapolis 500, electric go-karts made in high school classrooms across the country race on the track. A year’s worth of practice, perfecting, and pondering by the E-Kart club has led up to this moment. This year marks the ninth anniversary of the evGrandPrix at Purdue and the second race that Homestead has participated in. The club hopes that it can bring its first win, too.
The club was started by engineering teacher Joshua Salway and several of his students last year. In it, students work to design, build, test, and race an electric go-kart over the course of the school year.
“(E-Kart club) was created mainly for engineering students, but anyone can join,” Delaney Lewis (12), a member of the club, said.
There are currently about fifteen members in the club.
“We hope to gain more members in the next few years,” Nicholas Hunt (11) said. “The only requirements are a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.”
According to Dallas Sims (12), the club was slow-growing in its first year, but has since picked up speed.
“At the beginning, Mr. Salway came to me and asked me to be a part of the club,” Sims said. “It began with a select set of students (that Salway asked personally), but since then we have been seeing all types of students becoming interested.”
The club allows students to use engineering and design skills, but students can choose to just be spectators if they want.
“Students learn a lot about leadership, collaboration, and STEM skills,” Lewis said.
Each member plays an important role that is important to the success of the team. For instance, a group of students act as a pit crew, always on alert during the race. Others take the role of advertisers who work to secure sponsorships and funding for the club. There is also a designated driver who races the kart on race days.
“(As the kart driver), I have a lot of pressure on race day to perform at 110% percent and do well for the school,” Hunt said.
However, Salway assures that the club needs a mix of all talents, from mechanical to business and marketing.
The students spend a majority of their time designing and perfecting their E-Kart. Funding and participation are their biggest hurdles.
“We have to raise around $7,500 each year,” Salway said.
Because the karts race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the chassis, or the frames of the Karts, have to meet the speedway’s standards. A chassis that fits the standards typically runs for over $2,400. Other costs go to the rest of the body of the vehicle and its engine, as well as making sure it is safe to drive.
“This is our first full year, because we started late last year,” Salway said. “It takes a lot of work meeting with sponsors and spreading the word.”
The club practices racing at Fast Track Racing and conduct research to improve their kart. Near the day of the race, the team does tuning and testing on the Motor Speedway with other teams participating in the Purdue evGrandprix.
“(The Purdue evGrandPrix) was originally a gas-powered go-kart race, but because of pushes to go green and save the environment, Purdue decided to open up an electric go-kart race on the college and high school levels,” Salway said. “The E-Kart club races against other Indiana high school teams.”
The team spends their time working on their kart and gaining support, all of which builds up to the biggest event in May, when the team competes in Indianapolis at the Motor Speedway.
“We’re hoping to place well at our final race,” Lewis said.
Hunt said he wants to crack the top three in at the race. Salway has bolder hopes to place first; the team placed well last year and he feels they will perform even better this year.
“It would be great to see younger students take the lead and keep the club rolling,” Sims said. “Hopefully (they can win a few races in the process.”
E-Kart club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays after school in Room 426 from October until April, and then most days after school up to the race, May 15-16. Contact Salway at [email protected] for more information.

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