High school students get ready for evGrandPrix season at Purdue track

Teams from across the state gathered at the Purdue Grand Prix track for the kick off of the evGrandPrix season.

Posted: Aug 28, 2019 5:46 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A fresh group of high school students is getting ready for the evGrandPrix season on Wednesday. Students got the chance to take on Purdue's go-kart course, and learn valuable lessons in the industry.

Teams from across the state participated, including Lafayette Jefferson High School, Jennings County High School of North Vernon, Ben Davis High School of Indianapolis, Hobart High School, and Clinton Prairie High School of Frankfort

"Safety is number one with them no matter what we do," said Danny White, Manager of Motorsports for the Purdue Office of Engagement. "We spent the morning with drivers instructions, technical instructions type things and safety"

Saul Alvarez is a senior with Lafayette Jeff's Motorsports Team. He is driving for the team this year.

"You do a lot of things like making sure our tire pressures are good making sure all our bolts and nuts are tight just trying to have fun in the safety way possible," he said.

There are several female student on Jeff's team. Ilia Cepeda works behind the scenes on the cars and timing for her teammates. She learned to love working on cars from her dad.

"Last year I was the first girl coming into the motor sports team at Jeff," she said. "I was pretty nervous about it."

She hopes to inspire other women not to be intimidated.

"It makes me feel good that I'm helping to pave the way for more women in the automotive industry," she said. She originally wanted to study biology after high school. Now she is considering following in her previous teammate's footsteps, going to IUPUI for its Motorsports Engineering program. She said she would want to double major with biology.

Soon, you might be able to get the green flag at the track. The evGrandPrix organization has recently acquired eight event karts. White said this will allow people who come to Purdue for conferences, events and maybe even football games to come out and take a test drive on the track. 

"Now we have an actual fan experience where you might be able to come take a spin on the Purdue Grand Prix track," he said.

White said Wednesday's event is all about preparing these students for their next step.

"It gives them a good taste of a lot of the things they will experience and how to work in teams and groups when they get out into the real world," he said.

He says they are giving students a unique chance to get their foot in the door of the automotive world, which can be tough to break into.

"There's no training ground for EV drivers and that's where we come into play," he said. "However, the motorsports industry is just one industry they could go in."

This is the 10th year for the evGrandPrix program, which started at Purdue University. At the collegiate level, teams from as far away as China and England have participated.

The teams will get to compete at the championship race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.

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