Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2015

Shell Eco-marathon Americas started in 2007 with 17 teams competing on a 2 mile race track in Southern California. Six years ago, the event moved to downtown Houston where it grew beyond anyone’s expectations. This year, 2015, saw that success continue in a new place: the historic home of the U.S. auto industry. In all, 113 teams and more than 1,000 students from five countries across the Americas—Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and United States – registered and travelled, sometimes thousands of miles, with their cars and tools to set up shop in the massive Cobo Center on Detroit’s scenic riverfront.

Continuing excellence

The students may change, but excellent programmes have a way of continuing their success, while spurring others to greater accomplishment. That first year in Houston, 2010, the two teams that led in the Prototype and UrbanConcept categories -- The University of Laval (Quebec, Canada) and Mater Dei High School (Indiana, USA) -- were right there in the thick of the battle for top honours again Sunday in Detroit.

The only change this time was that another team, inspired by their exploits, finally broke through, in dramatic fashion, to take its place in the spotlight: Laval’s friendly Canadian rivals, The University of Toronto.

The entire event was one of the most trouble free yet for Laval. By mid-day Sunday they had posted an astounding 3,365 miles per gallon (1,431 kilometres per litre) mark on the challenging downtown track and seemed secure to take their sixth victory out of the last seven Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Toronto, on the other hand had battled problems all day, including four failed runs and a crash. With their car towed back into the paddock and time running out, Toronto scrambled to fix the black carbon-fibre bodied Prototype in time for one last attempt.

Toronto’s driver pulled onto the long uphill straight along the Detroit River with the track near close.  When the run was over, lightning finally struck for the team from Ontario: Toronto’s Supermileage Team 2 recorded a mileage equivalent of 3,421 miles per gallon (1,454 kilometres per litre) –  only two percent better than Laval.

Mater Dei took third place in the ultra-mileage Prototype gasoline category. Laval still holds the Shell Eco-marathon Americas all time high mark of 3,587 miles per gallon (1506 kilometres per litre) set in Houston two years ago.