Students from 20 local high schools compete in solar go-kart race at Bristol Motor Speedway


Students from Mountain City to Hamblen County met at Bristol Motor Speedway Monday for a unique competition.

20 schools from 13 systems took part in a solar go-kart race at the last great Colosseum.

News 5's Jessica Griffith shows us how students worked also to construct the go-karts.

This is a project students from local high schools have been working on all school year. The students are putting their solar go-karts to the test at the worlds fastest half mile

Bristol Motor Speedway is known for NASCAR racing and unique football rivalries.

But on Monday, there was something different racing around the track... solar powered go-karts. "The solar panels charge those batteries as we're moving," Hampton High School teachers Bruce Wiltshire and Daniel Arnett said. The schools received a $99,000 grant for the project from the Tennessee Department of Education. The students have been working since last fall to convert a gasoline powered go-kart... to solar power.

"Many hours spent , snow days, after school hours, weekends. we spent many hours working on this," they said. Working on stem program skills, including a lot of engineering skills and teamwork.

"Before this, I couldn't tell you how to bleed brakes, change tires or anything like that. I can build this take, take it apart and rebuild it from the ground," South Greene student Leben Goosman said.

"Getting closer to friends. We're bonding with each other with building something, using our hands," Science Hill student Troy Todd said. The idea for the project was presented to Washington County, Tennessee Assistant School Superintendent Bill Flanary.

He knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience for students.

"We could've taken this to a lot of places, parking lots or somewhere. But the opportunity for these students to operate vehicles that they built in the last great Colosseum, what could be better?," Flanary said. For BMS, the partnership was a natural.

"we have always had a long history of doing things in the community and being a partner with the schools especially," Julie Bennett said. "It's definitely going to be an experience. One in a lifetime," Science Hill student Jonathan Hopland said. Washington county school officials say there is a grant proposal to help fund the schools to do this again next year.

According to track officials, Clinch School from Hawkins County won overall. Hampton High came in second. Greeneville Center for technology came in third.

In the speed race, Clinch School came in first, Hampton High in second, and Johnson County High in third.

For the endurance race, Elizabethton High came in first, Johnson County High came in second and Greeneville Center for Technology came in third.

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