Sask. hockey-stick car will compete against world's best after 2nd-place finish at eco-marathon competition

Sask. hockey-stick car will compete against world's best after 2nd-place finish at eco-marathon competition

Making do with what you've got is a big part of Saskatchewan culture, and that finds its roots on the province's farms, where you can't always wait around for parts or repairs.

So even as students from Saskatchewan Polytechnic seek to compete in the high-tech world of designing and building energy-efficient cars, it should come as no surprise that the aerodynamic frame of their creation is built with hockey sticks recycled from rinks.

"They are light. They are available. They are inexpensive," said student Ryen Stallmann. 

Stallmann and his baker's dozen-strong crew from the Saskatoon campus placed second this weekend at the 12th edition of the Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition, where students from North and South America are challenged to design and build energy-efficient cars.

Those cars are then tested on the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Down to the wire

The result is a bit shocking for the team, who have been busy piecing together that hockey-stick frame, tweaking the engine, and using a 3D printer to stamp out the body of their car.

"We had no expectation of finishing the car this year," Stallmann explained. "We actually didn't get to compete on the first day the track was open because we were still trying to pass tech and get the car built."

The cars in the competition are as close as possible to being street legal — they come equipped with lights, windshield wipers and other standard options.

What sets the Saskatoon car apart is not just that carbon fibre hockey-stick frame, but also a six-speed transmission.

Stallmann said the gears make the car hum and although the speed limit at the California race is 40 km/h, the car has a lot more juice.  

"We didn't exceed that, but with our prototype we were doing 95 on one run."

Heading to the U.K.

With the second-place finish this past weekend in California, the team now qualifies to head across the pond to race against the best cars in the word at the Drivers' World Championship. They'll compete against winning teams from Asia and Europe in London this July.

Stallman said that he knows their main competition will be last year's winner, Saint Thomas Academy in the U.S., but he believes his team is in the mix. 

"We were only about four seconds back from them and we had 14 per cent of our fuel left. They only had two per cent of their battery electric energy left, so we think we can probably beat them, and if we can beat them I think we can do fairly well."