A high school team based out of New Jersey recently set a National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) world record when their converted Chevy S-10 pickup truck did an eighth-of-a-mile sprint in 19.107 seconds. That converts to a speed of 37.18 mph. The record, lodged into the books of the NEDRA in October of last year, set the mark in the association’s High School/F Class for vehicles up to 120 volts.
Let’s be honest, though. That’s not really all that fast. An NHL hockey player at top speed can hit about 30 mph. A greyhound can lay down tracks at close to 40 mph and an elite bicycle racer can move at speeds close to 50 mph in a flat sprint. And just for the sake of comparison, the world’s fastest electric vehicle, as recognized by the NEDRA, is Shawn Lawless’s “Rocket”, an electric motorcycle dragster which channels 355 volts into a quarter-mile time of 7.246 seconds and 185.46 mph.
But even though the record was certainly a banner day for the “Quiet Revolution’s” driver Joe Dolan, his team and the faculty at Orange-Ulster Boces Career and Technical Education Vehicle Maintenance Program, it’s not really the speed number laid down on the Old Bridge Raceway Track that matters. The important point is that there is even a record at all; that all across the country, groups of teenagers just like the New Jersey team are wrenching on EVs, tuning motors and squeezing every drop of juice from battery packs.
And what is really quite speedy is the way that vocational schools, shop classes and high school auto programs have latched onto the still-growing electric vehicle industry as both a learning tool and a fertile ground for future employment opportunities. According to a statement released by the school, preparing the EV was a cooperative effort among various programs at the school. New Vision Engineering students, Transportation Academy students, welding students from the Construction Careers Academy, and students from the Engineering Careers Academy worked together to fine-tune the EV. That’s a lot of engaged young minds working on new problems in a new industry and in this case, setting a brand new world record.
Truth be told, the record probably won’t stand for very long. All across the country, there are teams of young people in garage workshops sweating over the same problems and challenges, hungrily eyeing that 37 mph mark. It’s also a pretty good bet that the New Jersey kids have that old 1995 pickup on the lift at this moment, thinking, experimenting, testing.