Trumbull High defended its alternative energy racing crown recently, completing 102 laps of Berlin Raceway in four separate heat races. The team raced an electric go-kart against teams from seven other state schools.

The race constraints are that teams are limited to a one-horsepower DC electric motor, and two 12-volt car batteries to power the vehicle. The go-kart works on basic electronics principles, the batteries are wired in series to make a combined 24-volt system. The difficult part of the race is that competitors aren’t allowed to recharge batteries in between the four 15-minute heats, so getting an efficient gear ratio is essential.

During the weeks prior to the race, Technology Education teacher Matthew Iaccarino taught the students how the go-carts electrical system works and the students did routine maintenance from last year’s design, allowing the vehicle to work at peak performance. The track is very technical with six turns the students have to maneuver through, so each year checking the wheel bearings and drive system is vital.

One of the largest obstacles was to build a reliable, strong car that could hold up to the hour of drive time with little to no problems. The one hiccup the students ran into was losing throttle response from the throttle pedal during the second and third heat. This could have been caused from a faulty pedal or a weak connection in the system.

Each heat of the race was driven by a different student. The four student drivers were Martin Birnbach, Jonathan McLeod, Nate Turner and A.J. Kwieraga. Throughout the four heats, their lap counts were as follows: 26, 26, 25, and 27 laps. The students completed a total of 102 laps to take first place overall.