Main content | back to top
Teams Inch Toward the Starting Line With Tech Inspections
The paddock in the George R. Brown convention center is bustling with activity today as teams work tirelessly on their vehicles, getting ready for the first day of competition runs tomorrow at Shell Eco-marathon Americas.
Students from St. John's School watch as their car is inspected before going onto the track at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013, Thursday, April 4, in downtown Houston.
Of the 131 student teams checked in on-site, 55 had passed technical inspection by mid-day Friday, with many more in queue for the gauntlet of tests that ensures their vehicle is fit for competition. Teams must clear the comprehensive check out before making any runs on the practice track.
“The most common types of issues we see are related to safety – chain guards, safety harnesses, brake problems,” said one inspection official.
For some teams, inspections can reveal bigger design flaws requiring changes made on-the-fly.
The electric vehicle team from Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, traveled more than 1,000 miles to Houston only to find out that they were 10 centimeters (4 inches) on the wrong side of potential disqualification.
“They told us our car was too long. We had to choose between going on the track as non-competing participants or making the modification to our car to complete. And we wanted to compete,” said one team member.
Determined to make the most of their first trip to Shell Eco-marathon Americas, the team used a hacksaw to bob their car’s tail down to competition requirements. Confident the changes would pass muster, they headed back for re-inspection.
“It was emotional,” joked another team member. “We should’ve measured it before we came!”