Thursday, April 10, 2014

S.T.E.M and Electrathon America Lacey Grand Prix

Held in my hometown of Lacey, Washington on the first Saturday in May, it was previously known as the "Lacey Alternative Fuel Fair and Electric Car Rally."  This outdoor event held at Huntamer Park off College Street showcases solutions in all areas of energy savings, alternative fuels and conservation efforts. Yes! its very much a "Green thing!" What is S.T.E.M?  It is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics but EVs will still rule the day!

I became a presenter the first time in 2005 with my Prius when hybrids were still a new concept to most people. This gave me the opportunity to talk to a lot of people who were interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle.  Then in 2008, I started showing my ZENN, an NEV (neighborhood Electric Vehicle. these by WA State law are restricted to a maximum speed of 35 mph) and now its naturally its my LEAF.  Every year, the fair has grown and grown to the point where I probably talked with 100-150 people at the 2013 event.

But as nice as the solar demos, EVs, Puget Sound Energy's "Green Power" programs are, the real draw is the Electric Car Rally.

The rally is not a race of speed, its range. (after all, they are EVs and as EV drivers; what is our main concern?)  So the race starts and it has a time limit (which only a few can make) so its who finishes the most laps in a certain time frame or if no one can run the allotted time, its who finishes the most laps.

Its really nothing more than "Soap Box Derby" electrified.  about 75% of the cars are completely hand built by father/son teams and these are VERY complex projects.  One must have welding, fabrication, design and electrical skills to be able to complete one of these as it is but the level of knowledge increases exponentially when we add in the competition factor and the egos of your young child.

This is where the community comes in. Yes, there were teams that did not discuss their secrets with each other but then there were others that freely gave advice to the newer racers in the group. The synergy from the shared knowledge of the racers was a great thing to see. It was the feeling of witnessing the camaraderie that solidified my decision to get an EV which led to the ZENN (not such a good idea...)

So, if you are ever cruising thru Lacey WA about the first Saturday of May and you have a few hours, stop by and check it out. The Fair itself is free, its a great thing for the kids, and a wonderful way to see some of the new things just around the corner!

Unfortunately, I will miss it for the first time in Several years. (The last time was when my Son was less than a month old) I will be at Disneyland!

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