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December 8, 2020 

F1 in Schools

A Granbury High School team won the national championship in the F1 in Schools competition on December 5, 2020. 

Alliance Racing won first place and advances to the World Finals to be held virtually in March 2021.  GHS students Taylor Lawrence and Alex Oppermann serve as team manager and designer engineer respectively.  Two students from Palmetto High School in Bradenton County, Florida join them to complete the winning squad. 

Another GHS team, Stride Racing, placed third and will also have a place at the international contest. Members of that team are Reed Blevins (team manager and marketing), Mason Miranda (graphic designer), Kaylee Langer (manufacturing engineer), and Wesley Barefoot (design engineer). 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition looked very different and was held virtually, according to GHS coach and engineering teacher Todd Gibson.  Cars were mailed to Florida to be raced down the track while everything else was submitted digitally prior to the competition. Verbal presentations were prerecorded, portfolios were digital copies, and pit displays included renderings of mockup CAD files in lieu of the normal exhibit-style displays. 

“Instead of face to face interviews with the team by judges, several Zoom sessions took place with students defending design ideas, explained their reasoning behind the car, and elaborated on their business and marketing plans,” Gibson commented. “We watched racing take place through a live video feed. In normal competitions, students have to ability to inspect their cars prior to racing and fix any parts that break in between races.  With us being remote, this was not possible.  The students knew this ahead of time and designed cars stronger than normal to withstand the impact.” 

The school has a long history of success in the F1 in Schools program.  Last year, Synergy Racing won awards for best identity and pit display at the World Finals in Abu Dhabi.  In 2018, Lone Star Racing was the regional grand champion, while Torrent Racing was third with both advancing to the national competition. 

Three years ago, Atlas Racing and Precision Racing represented the United States at the international contest in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  In 2015, Affinity won the national championship and advanced to the world finals held in Singapore.  A year earlier, the team won second place at nationals and traveled to Abu Dhabi.  A GHS squad also competed at the world finals in 2013, when the United States hosted the contest in Austin. 

F1 in Schools is a multi-disciplinary challenge in which teams of students aged 9 to 19 deploy CAD/CAM software to collaborate, design, analyze, manufacture, test, and then race miniature gas-powered balsa wood F1 cars.  The challenge inspires students to use technology to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership/teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative, competitive and exciting way. 

“Our students put in hundreds of hours preparing for these competitions, and it is great to see that work pay off,” Gibson said.  “I am very proud of both GHS teams, and we are excited to start prepping for the next round. The competition gets much tougher at the World Finals, and our students will be competing against more than fifty other teams from over 25 different countries around the world.”