MADISON- As both highly intelligent and exceptionally competitive, the 18-member squad that makes up the Bob Jones Patriot Racing Team enters its seventh season of competition after each team member undergoes an extensive application process, including a sit-down interview with teacher sponsor Jessye Gaines and program coach Kris Kasprzak.
Headed into the 2022-2023 school year, the squad will carry its moniker as National Champions after winning the Greenpower USA National Championships held at the famed Talladega Superspeedway at the tail end of the last school year.
“We look for students who are coachable, willing to try new ways of thinking, self-starters and who can communicate well,” said Gaines who helped start the Patriot Racing Team as head of the engineering academy at Bob Jones. “All of those aspects of the students allow each of them to face problem solving and have the required teamwork and leadership qualities.”
“We always seem like a family working together as we travel together and spend a lot of time collaborating and brain storming our ideas on how to make our cars more efficient,” said Bob Jones senior Josh Chen, who carries a 5.3 grade point average and is ranked second in his class. “Solutions. That’s an important part of what we do. We design, build and operate these electric cars and we’re always looking for an edge in our competition.”
Kevin Lanyi, also a senior for the Patriots, boasts a 4.92 grade point average and has plans to attend Auburn University where he wants to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. He’s also a main driver for one of the two cars the program has built and is in his sixth year of the Greenpower program. “We just completed re-wiring the cars and I feel I help in many ways as I’m well-rounded as I know the nuts and bolts of these cars.”
Race competition is more than just commencing the car powered with its electric motors and outdueling the competition to the finish line. Each team must be able to communicate clearly to the race officials about the race car by utilizing a pre-produced a video or power point presentation created by the students. Those teams must represent their work with a fine-tuned and well written video presentation and the presentation is a big part of the overall product.
“We run the program like a company as each student is required to wear a team shirt and nice clothes while on road trips,” said Gaines.
The cars weigh 140 pounds and can travel up to 32 miles per hour as races are usually broken down to three categories of cars- advance stock, modified- custom built. For Bob Jones, the students have given names to the two cars- Blue is The Rival- Red is The Flash. Each race includes two 90-minute heats and each car is required to have three drivers within the race. Pit stops, repairs and driver changes are crucial to the timing and final stats on how many laps are completed.
As another summer break has ended for the students and a new school year rolls around, the student-athletes of the Patriot Racing Team anxiously await another season of fun, comradery, challenges and the chance to stay on the throttle towards a possible national title.
“These are some of the best students I’ve been around and give hope for the next generation,” said Gaines.
The complete story on the Patriot Race Team is available in the August issue of the Madison Living Magazine.