Sonoma Raceway hosts 13th annual Eco-Marathon

Students from all over the world were at the Sonoma Raceway Saturday, for the final day of Shell’s 13th annual Eco-Marathon. 

Teams from eight different countries competed to build the most energy-efficient car, and then tested it on the track to see which one could travel the farthest on the least amount of energy. 

All the vehicles were built from scratch. 

“They’re competing to see who can go the furthest on the least amount of energy. And it’s not just the joy of competition and teamwork but they also do receive cash prizes for both on-track performance and off-track performance,” said Pam Rose, the General Manager of the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas.

There were three energy categories – internal combustion, hydrogen fuel cell, and battery electric.
The cars consist of prototypes – the ones that are streamlines with a futuristic look. And “urban concept” – which are more road-worthy.

A team from Northern Illinois University described their creation they had to hide under a tarp, when it briefly started raining. “Entirely student made. The outside of the vehicle is carbon fiber shell that we vacuum mold ourselves and then that clips on the aluminum frame.”

California schools competing included UC Berkeley, Cal State Sacramento, and Cal Poly. 

“Our ultimate goal when we get out there is to get the best miles per gallon,” said Crystal Prima Lang, on the Cal Poly team. She explained what it’s like to drive one of these small and creative cars. 

“It’s a very bumpy ride,” she said. “We don’t run shocks or anything to keep your from bouncing around. So you’re laying down, you have the steering wheel almost between your legs, but it’s very exciting.”

Students say they spend all year working on these projects. Top teams have the opportunity to compete at the world championship in London.