Hybrid Effect – Perfecting Man and Machine

The racing marshal drove the green flag vigorously through the air in a figure-eight.

Popping his left foot off the clutch, Ed released 124 horsepower into both slicks, shearing rubber against the pavement, expelling a black cloud into the cool May air. The team’s five hundred twenty five pound Formula hybrid racer ripped across the starting line.

“Go Blue Go.” Stephen, a junior at Brigham Young University (BYU) called out from behind his team in the pits at the New Hampshire Speedway, neck stretched out as his school’s car accelerated to the first gate. “Ed is like steel.”

“Go! go!” Lance, a senior and the team leader said with both fists clenched. We’ve got to win this event to have any chance at first place.”

Stephen cupped both hands around his mouth and yelled, “Ease up. Here comes the first turn.”

“Did you see that?” Coach Harper, taller than any team member, explained Ed’s great move. “He gave it full throttle, maximum battery discharge, then backed off just in time to make the turn avoiding a spinout.”

“He made the first gate!” another team member confirmed.

The navy blue and white car and cohesive driver maneuvered the endurance course as one, with excellence and timing, turning with precision. This years design included a 3-phase AC permanent magnet motor, 6-speed manual transmission, and lithium polymer batteries.

The team roared, hands in the air, after each successful turn. It was the best race seen all day, and the best seen for BYU in their five years of Formula Hybrid competition. Crossing the finish line, thirteen-point-seven miles later, with top speed of 67 miles per hour, all stood, every member of every team, impressed, thrilled with BYU’s performance, surely the top score for this event.

The team’s unofficial self-designated score keeper held his stop watch close to his face and typed a number on his laptop. “It’s the best endurance time yet. Thirty-four minutes and twenty-nine seconds. We beat last years score by a full half minute.” He looked down the list. “But there are still eleven more teams.”

Stephen thought, “We’ll show those judges who’s the best.” His eyebrows rolled down.

The coach looked out of the corner of his eye at the youngest team member, then he looked down at the ground but did not speak.

The driver rolled into the pits to the applause of his team mates.

“Wow, that was great.”  “You were awesome.”

“But is it enough?” Ed turned off the supplemental internal combustion engine and pulled off his helmet, sweaty hair standing on end, and repeated, calling out from the small craft. “Is it enough to make up for the other events?”

(To be continued) #engineerclips

About Kenneth Richard Hardman

AncestorClips are very short stories about very real people. Each clip nurtures awareness of a time, a place, and the character of a man or woman who cultivated a path for our life. The reader feels the good, the obstacles, the happiness, the sadness, and the overcoming. They cheer us, make us resilient when challenged, give us purpose, and connect us to our multi-generational family. Each story is followed by reflections from the author and readers sharing how the story strengthened or inspired them. Ken Hardman is a son, a brother, a grandson, a great-grandson… He is also a husband, father and grand-father. Ken is a professional engineer, engineering mentor, technical writer, and associate technical fellow at a major aerospace company. He is a writer of engineering and family history stories. Please join Ken in reading, reflecting upon, or writing #AncestorClips
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