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Teenage racers line up for Schools' Grand Prix

Sunday, May 22 2011

The second running of the Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix takes place today (22 May), where eight teams from Schools in the Bedford area race electric cars that they have designed.

The Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix is a project masterminded by MotorSport Vision Chief Executive and ex-Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer, with the support of Bedford Borough Council.

The initiative was launched in October of 2009, when pupils aged 11-16 from schools around Bedford were given the parts to design and build their own small electric cars.

Six schools have signed up for this years' running of the event: Bedford High School for Girls, Biddenham Upper School, Dame Alice Harpur School, Mark Rutherford Upper School and Community College, St Thomas More Catholic Upper School, Bedford Girls School and Bedford Academy.

With many of the entries being refined versions of last year's racers, some of the schools have also entered two cars, however each one must work to the same rules. The four wheel single seaters are each powered by a 240 watt electric motor with energy from two 12 volt car batteries and the competition is designed to promote environmentally friendly energy consistent with future car power technology.

However the contest has been designed to fulfil as much of the school curriculum as possible and in addition to prizes for the overall winner, there are awards for pit stops, car liveries, crew presentation, team websites, catering, publicity and commentating with pupils taking over the microphone to describe their classmates' efforts on track!

Each school will field teams of six drivers and the race will include mandatory pit stops and driver swaps, whilst the winning school will be awarded a unique trophy in memory of the former Mayor of Bedford Borough, Frank Branston, a strong supporter of the project. Last years winners, Mark Rutherford Upper School will be keen to retain their trophy but face stiff competition, with St Thomas More Catholic Upper School proving to be fastest in qualifying.

"When I first conceived the idea of an electric car race for local schools, together with the late Mayor of Bedford Borough Frank Branston, I hoped that it would inspire great achievements from everyone involved," said MotorSport Vision Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer. "At the first race in May last year I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and expertise of all the pupils and teachers involved. The Grand Prix was extremely exciting, and impressively every team managed to cross the finish line."

Click on the link below for further information on the Bedford Autodrome Schools' Grand Prix.