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Alden-Conger students race to top in Eco-Marathon

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 05/13/2013 2:37 PM

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ALDEN, Minn. — Alden-Conger's winning supermileage team isn't resting on its laurels.

The team, which placed in the top three with four of the cars they raced in the Shell Eco-Marathon April 4-7 in Houston, Texas, is hard at work preparing the cars for the Minnesota Supermileage Challenge, May 14-15.

Alden-Conger has had a supermileage team since 2000, said team adviser David Bosma. Bosma teaches chemistry, physics, applied engineering, environmental science and ninth grade physical science at Alden-Conger High School, and he also farms.

"I believe in applying what you learn," Bosma said, and the supermileage team is the perfect outlet for many students.

Team members recruit others who are good with mechanics and small in stature, said team captain Jacob Wallin, a freshman.

They need smaller students to drive because they are lighter, and that makes the cars run more efficiently, said Wallin, who is too tall to drive a supermileage car.

There are 22 students on the Alden-Conger supermileage squad, mostly sophomores and freshmen. Students in grades seven through 12 may participate on the supermileage team.

Each participant is required to put 60 hours of work into the cars, but many have put in more than 200, Bosma said.

Each student has something they're good at, sophomore Drew Folie said. One may work on the steering, another the frame, and then they put it all together.

"So it's a big team effort," he said.

The supermileage cars are crafted for mileage, not beauty or comfort.

Folie, who drove the E100 car in Houston, said it's actually quite comfortable. When he drives the vehicle, he stretches his legs straight out in front of him, and sits at an angle in the seat. At the Houston race, he wore a helmet and a fire suit.

The E100 car was first in its class. It set a North American mileage record of 1,579 miles per gallon using a 50cc Honda engine. It's the kind of engine that would be in a moped, said Folie, who is also a team captain.

The biodiesel car also placed first with 1,017 mpg. The diesel car placed second with 1,299 mpg.

The team earned $7,000 in prize money, $2,000 for each first place, $1,000 for the second place and a $2,000 safety award.

The Houston track follows urban roads bordering a 12-acre public park. Each lap is 0.6 miles and participants must complete 10. Track speeds range from 15 to 30 mph.