Hybrid Car Race Winner A Thing Of College Designed Beauty

A formula hybrid race car designed and built by engineering students from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah took first place recently at this year’s Formula Hybrid Competition.

In the competition the car completed a 16-mile course, coming in first out of a field of 40 universities from across the country and beyond. During the competition, run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the BYU team set a new record in the acceleration run and placed first in the endurance run.

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image via Brigham Young University

The BYU vehicle called Hybrid Blue has a 100-horsepower, 450-pounds-of-torque engine that runs off both a 72 lithium polymer-celled battery pack and E-85 fuel. The car was built by a team of 16 engineering students from the ground up. The team was led by Dr Robert Todd, part of the university’s Mechanical Engineering Capstone program.

Todd has been overseeing the construction of hybrid formula cars for the last seven years. According to him, this year’s model was also shortened by 14 inches, which helped shave off more than 80 pounds.

“We did everything we could to make the car lighter so we could get lots of acceleration and agility,” Todd said in a statement. “These students have learned to work hard — probably harder than they’ve ever worked in their life.”

BYU has been at the cutting edge of high performance electric vehicle (EV) technology. Last year, a BYU team set a record for Streamliner E1 class racers at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

That EV, nicknamed “Electric Blue” and fitted with lithium iron phosphate batteries, was built by BYU engineering students and managed two runs at an average speed of 155.8 MPH. More than 130 BYU students contributed to the creation of the racer over the seven years of the project. Students custom-built the lightweight carbon fiber body after modeling it on a wind tunnel program on a computer.

Dartmouth’s Formula Hybrid Competition challenges college and university students to design, build, and compete high-performance hybrid and electric vehicles. According to the terms of the challenge, the vehicles must be open-wheel, single-seat, electric or plug-in hybrid-electric race cars.

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image via Brigham Young University

The competition was founded by Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth in 2006. Thayer runs the event, which carries the endorsement of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

“Since it was the last hurrah and since it was Dr Todd’s last year, it was first place or nothing for us,” team member Jesse Goulding said in a statement. “Our goal, our expectation, was to finish in first and we are so thrilled we met that goal.”

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.