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The Rotary Racer team from Chipping Sodbury School wins the Greenpower 2015 International Final at Rockingham

 

Information

  • More than 110 school teams across Greenpower’s IET Formula 24 and IET Formula 24+ race categories competed in Greenpower’s 2015 International Final
  • Rotary Racer won both F24 races, and Renishaw won the F24+ race, Silverline Corporate Challenge and IET Formula F24+ championship
  • Entries from the USA, Poland, Portugal and UK made for full and global grids

Teams of secondary school children, along with teachers and parent helpers, have been busy all over the country again this year designing, building, developing and racing electric race cars on circuits across the UK. The concept is to encourage youngsters in the UK into the field of engineering by showing them what it is about and getting them involved.

The Rotary Racer team's current car, RR9, was designed, built, developed and raced by pupils from year 7 through to sixth form at Chipping Sodbury school. The school is well renowned for its excellent DT department that helps pupils learn and understand about design and engineering. The four Greenpower teams operate as an after school club that takes this further into actually building real running electric cars capable of up to 40 MPH with effective fuel efficiency figures of over 3000 MPG.

The teams have worked hard developing their cars this year and competed at various regional races to qualify for the international finals. Rotary Racer managed to win both F24 races and, in doing so, they became the International Final Champions for 2015 against a strong field of over 80 cars from schools across the country and abroad. RAF Pod managed to finish in 15th place a very respectable position in the final. Chain reaction bettered their initial placing based on qualification times by over 23 places. All these results were excellent for the pupils involved and the school, reflecting just how much the students have worked as a team on their respecticve racing cars.

The pupils get funds to allow them to build and race the cars from local organisations and sponsorship from companies. Any help is always appreciated. A massive thank you to all of our current sponsors as, without you, the teams and students would not be able to take part in this fantastic project. For information on our sponsors see our main web page at: http://www.greenpower.beamweb.co.uk/files/RotaryRacer

About The Greenpower Final

Quotes

"I'm very proud of our team for our successes on Sunday and throughout the year: it's incredible seeing my teammates develop from students with little experience to a team of young adults, equipped with invaluable engineering, teamwork and management skills.  I think Greenpower is excellent for not only recognising and awarding the fastest teams, but also the best newcomers, the most innovative and ones who show great teamwork and give help for other competitors."

Thomas Allington

"The best part about Greenpower isn't just about driving and winning the races, it's the fact that you have contributed to something that not only works but succeeds. The whole team has been a part of the creation process and everyone should be proud of their accomplishments."

Louise Barnaby

"To join the team for the first time in the final was a nerve racking experience but I was made welcome straight into the team and was made to feel part of everything. I'm looking forward for the new experiences and fun moments in the next season for definite!"

Ben Slinn

"The Greenpower project has grown massively over the past 7 years I've been a part of it and the team has shaped and grown as people have come and gone through their school careers. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a wonderful team who all get along incredibly well and I thoroughly look forward to Greenpower sessions and the races throughout the year. The success of the team is fully down to the members and the experience that has been accumulated over the past 10 years of the team. It is lovely to see a creation come to life from a piece of scrap paper and then go on to win the international final. Even though I'm now leaving the team, I'm sure their successes will continue for years to come."

Dawn Barnaby

"Being part of a Greenpower team like Rotary Racer has given me opportunities that I would not normally get in school. It has given me the opportunity to experience different aspects of engineering from CAD to hands on building bits of the car. I have had an amazing first year, being able to drive in all of the races including the International Final, letting me participate in events that I wouldn't normally have access to.I look forward to the coming year where we can work as a team on designing and building the next 'Rotary Racer."

Tom Peaston

"Greenpower at Chipping Sodbury School continues to grow in popularity and success. From Humble beginnings where two teams started with help from Chipping Sodbury Rotarians and Alderley Engineering, the school has established itself as the most successful ever in the competition.
We have four Formula 24 teams at the school, three made the national final. they were Rotary Racer, Pod Movement and Chain Reaction. I am confident that the Alderley Express team will be in next years final due to the Light-weighting and aerodynamic developments on their new car.

Again Rotary Racer out performed all in the national final to win the two races. It is a tribute to the pupils and parents who dedicate themselves to this fun way of learning and gaining new skills. The parents and pupils of all the teams are fantastic and work so hard to put Chipping Sodbury school on the map in this National competition.

It was pleasing to see some of our Ex pupils who are developing careers in Engineering winning the Formula 24+ championship. Many of our pupils who were involved with Greenpower have  successfully gained apprenticeships with top engineering companies in the area. Many have followed university routes into Engineering and Motorsport related subjects. We are also fortunate to have pupils continuing the project in the sixth form who I am sure will have a fantastic future using their skills gained at Chipping Sodbury School

I am so lucky to be involved with such a wonderful group of people and congratulations to all involved."

Brendan McMorrow, DT Teacher

"It's not just the engineering (although that's the main bit), but the team work, responsibility, self confidence and many other aspects that are highlights of the Greenpower challenge."

Terry Barnaby, Parent Helper

 

Points

  • The purpose is to promote engineering as a career to pupils in order to increase the numbers taking up engineering in the UK.
  • Teams consist of 6 or more pupils with parent and teacher helpers.
  • We try and cover as many aspects of engineering as possible. This includes research, maths, science, mechanics, electronics, software development, systems and control,  CAD design, simulation, development work, meetings, team work, testing, materials, assembly, machine work, welding, woodwork, painting, telemetry, media, fund raising, shows, presentations, Internet work (websites, facebook, twitter, youtube) etc.
  • Greenpower cars travel at up to 40 MPH and can average 30MPH for 1 and a half hours on two small batteries.
  • Efficient "green" design is one of the aspects. Rotary Racer averaged an equivalent of over 3000 MPG in the race.
  • The electronic speed controller and computer PCB's were made by the pupils.
  • Aerodynamics is key. The pupils use 3D CAD tools and computational fluid dynamics software tools to improve the efficiency as well as a wind tunnel they built.
  • They have designed and built a driving simulator to help the drivers learn race driving skills.
  • The car was built by the pupils. This included lathe, milling, welding as well as normal metal and wood working.
  • The car has telemetry to the pits and data logging. The pupils can manage the car's power using the telemetry data as a guide.
  • There are team meetings, GANT charts and reviews just like in real engineering companies.
  • Three drivers drive in a race with two pit stops. Team work during the pit stops is essential.
  • On small race circuits the drivers will perform hundreds of overtaking maneuvers.
  • The cars are built and race to F24 rules and regulations.
  • As much work as possible is performed by the younger team members. Some information on Rotary Racers 9 design: http://www.greenpower.beamweb.co.uk/files/RotaryRacer/Development-2013/RotaryRacer9-Design.pdf

Our Race

Work on RR9 this year has been mainly to cope with rule changes and to provide added driver protection. Along with that we had quite a few new team members to bring up to speed (pun intended!). However some enhancements to the aerodynamics (with a new windshield and bonnet arrangement, new mirrors and improvements to running gear) have been recently made.

This year there was a huge field of excellent teams from across the country competing. At the sharp end there were at least 6 different teams who could take the podium positions so it would be a tough race for all. There had been plenty of pit stop practices at CSS as we knew the race would likely be tight. The batteries were selected, charged, warmed and we were ready to go. The practice lap times for all cars are available on the web for all to see and we could see our competition was going very well indeed. All the team were up for the challenge.

The pit garages were lively with all of the teams working on getting their cars ready for the race. There was an excellent excited buzz all around. The new Terazord car from Bristol Grammar School was next to us looking superb. We will see a lot more from that one ...

The first race started with an unusual rolling lap start, which we hadn't done before, so it was all a bit new. Tristan started off fine though getting our race underway. Unfortunately the Purple Predator, one of our main challengers for the title had an issue that their power was still off. Luckily they got going fairly quickly. Another of the fastest competitors, the Black Bullet suffered a blown fuse which cost them precious minutes to fix which was a shame. Once the race had got going though, all was not well with RR. Our battery charge indicator displayed on the pit side laptop via the telemetry was showing the batteries were no where near as good as they should have been and current usage was higher than expected (or hoped for !). So the pupil laptop engineer told the driver to shut down the power by lowering the "warp" factor. As the race progressed we had to shut down the power even more and were going backwards with respect to the teams at the front. Kevan was noticing the lap times increase. "Oh well" we thought, "that has blown it, we chose the wrong battery set." However, we carried on with some fine driving by Tristan and later Tom with some good pit stops. Joe was the last and lightest driver. By then, although we were lower down the field of cars, the batteries weren't looking so bad, our reduction in power had given us a bit more energy to play with, and with the lighter driver the "warp" was turned up a bit more. Amazingly enough, we started to creep back up the field and in the last few laps the lead cars started to slow as their batteries waned. We managed to pass both the Purple Predator and RLR2, which was going superbly, in the last few laps and managed a first place position. The whole team was ecstatic, we hadn't expected that.

The car was brought back to the pits as fast as possible so that we could change the motor's gear for a larger one for the F24+ race. With the poorer batteries in the F24 first race, the F24+ team, Tom and Dawn decided to gear slightly slower than they had planned to make sure of the batteries lasting and some better efficiency from the motor. The whole team had screwdrivers and Allen keys turning to get the gear changed and the car ready for the F24+ race. The F24+ race went well for us, but we didn't have the battery energy we expected and so the gearing choice was right for the day.

There was plenty of inter-team fun ("banter" going on, the Weald team, Red Flame team and RR's team were trading mis-information about their teams gearing choices for the next race and selfie photos were going on, including one taken by a member of the Weald team with RR's team "sabotaging" one of the Wealds cars! Also various videos were being shot for a later pupil produced short video on the event. (A link to this can be found on the home page of this website.)

We managed an 8th place in a very competitive F24+ race. Matt with Reprobation managed to take the win over Dave with Jet, just. Those two have been battling each other all year and have raised the performance of their cars to new highs in the process!

Again RR was brought back for another quick gear, battery and driver change with all of the younger team members working, with some adult helpers to do the initial Allen key loosening and final Allen key tightening. RR was ready and sent out to challenge for the second F24 race. Unfortunately we were placed at the back of the grid for some reason, together with RLR2, possibly because we were a bit late queuing for a grid walk that was taking place. We thought that this had blown our chances as this placing could easily lose us 3 minutes on most of the front runners and probably the championship with the new rolling start scheme. But nothing could be done about it, so we kept our hopes high and rose to the challenge. Thankfully GP told the drivers that they could pass cars going much slower and so our loss in time was reduced to a minute and a half in the end. Thomas followed RLR2, carefully passed some of the cars, but we were well down the field with a lot of work to do. Luckily this battery set, which we thought was our best, was actually our best and looked good from the telemetry read outs. So the pupil laptop engineer told the driver to keep the warp power levels high and we burnt those amps moving up through the large number of cars. RR had made our way up to about 9th, when Louise our last driver was quickly put in in one of our teams quickest pit stops ever. Louise carried on the trend, and with her fast, smooth driving we continued to climb up the field with various "encouragement" over the walkie talkies. The team tried to compete with team Hummingbird's cheering (we lost !). Again we managed to pass the Purple Predator in the closing stages, but Dylan, the new car from CAUC was finding its feet (tightening the brush cap did help!) and the CAUC girls were flying. Did we have enough energy? The batteries looked good, so the power was raised again and we decided to risk it. RR just managed to pass CAUC in the closing laps and our battery gauge reached 0% just on the finishing line in first place !

The team were ecstatic, and the celebrations started, an excellent end to our Greenpower year. Now to the winter, with two new team members, to where Greenpower really happens: to the research, idea generation and design work for RR10 ...

The RR Team

Thomas (the Tank Engine/Op-Thomas Prime), Dawn (Little Miss Flat-Out), Louise (Persil, Small and Mighty), Joe (Josephina the Ballerina), Tristan (Tristan' Shout), Tom (Turbo Tom), Ben, big Ben and Daniel along with their parent helpers.

Some Pictures

 

Further Information