A team of local young engineers aged between 11-14 yrs have reached the International Finals of the Greenpower F24 racing championship which takes place at Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex this weekend on Sunday 8th October.
Greenpower Education Trust is a UK based charity which gets young people enthusiastic about science and engineering by challenging them to design, build and race an electric car in a number of age-based categories. The Grampian Transport Museum Young Engineers Club has been involved in the Greenpower challenge for a number of years in the Formula 24 class for self-built 24volt electric powered single seat race cars. The races are each 90 minutes long with a minimum of 3 drivers, involving at least two pit stops, and the winner is the car which travels the furthest in that time.
Following the Covid shutdown and with the age restrictions, post-covid there was only one member with past experience and so the current team of young engineers are mostly experiencing the racing for the first time in 2023. Despite this, at the two Scottish qualifying rounds – at East Fortune racing circuit and at GTM – the team managed to qualify both of their cars for the final, against many longer established and better funded teams.
Team leader at GTM is volunteer John Rahtz, whose engineering expertise has been key to much of the previous success of the Alford based club “The Greenpower racing series is a tremendous way to interest young people in the STEM curriculum subjects because they see the theory put into practice and can enjoy the success of doing it well. I might have the knowledge to oversee the project of building the cars but the students carry out the majority of the work preparing the cars. On race day they have to do it all themselves as adults are not allowed in the pits!
“We have had some good results in the past but I believe that today we have the best team we have ever had, and that includes the parents who help out and of course fund a lot of the racing. The museum provides the workshops and tools, the track on which to learn the driving skills and as much support as we can but without enthusiastic volunteer parents it just would not happen.”
The 2023 team comprises seven drivers and two cars, ‘Spyder’ and ‘Merlin’. The driver/engineers are Rufus Turley (14), Fergus Dunbar (14), Harvey Pole (14), Edward Cormack (14) and Alexander Brodie (14), all from Aboyne Academy, Louden Rennie (14) from Alford Academy and Millie Pole (11) from Torphins Primary.
Ken and Imogen Pole are two of the parent helpers with the GTM Young Engineers club “One of Harvey’s school friends at Aboyne Academy, Fergus Dunbar, was the original club member post-covid and his enthusiasm persuaded us all to get involved so we went along to see what could be done. It has been amazing to see how the children have progressed since those early days last year. Greenpower racing was created to encourage pupils to develop their skills in STEM subjects but it does so much more. Not only have they developed their science and engineering skills, they have learned driving, strategy planning, team working, managing under pressure and best of all, to believe in their own ability.
“They have all proved themselves by qualifying both cars under extreme pressure from much longer established and better funded teams around Scotland. Now their reward is this trip to the International Finals at Goodwood this weekend. We are so very proud of them all.”
When asked about their prospects there was a glint in Imogen’s eyes “We have a secret weapon… Millie is 11 and just old enough to race. She is small and light and a very good driver, just what we need. Towards the end of the 90-minute race, as the batteries are beginning to fade and the cars are slowing, when Millie climbs aboard it goes faster! At the East Fortune heats fearless Millie made a last lap overtake which took the car from third to second and qualified it for the final, she was superb. I think all of the team stand a very good chance of doing well!”