E-cars roll across Cascade Locks


News staff writer

April 12, 2006

With the whoosh of rubber tires on wet pavement drowned to a whisper by the pounding of rain on everything under the clouds, Saturday morning’s electrathon race in Cascade Locks brought 27 racers into some of the worst spring weather the Gorge can dish out.

Although electric car components don’t mind the rain, drivers’ seats are usually open-air to reduce weight and wind resistance.

Needless to say, drivers were soaked to the bone after the most-laps-in-an-hour race around the Cascade Locks Marine Park.

The winning car, designed and built by students from Willamette High School, completed 53 half-mile laps in the given hour. At 51 laps was Hood River Valley High School racer Kevin Dye, who finished fifth overall in his low-sitting three-wheeler. Also racing from Hood River were students Cory Castro and Jeff Emmerson, who finished 12th and 13th respectively.

The Hood River racers designed and built their cars in a HRVHS class called applied engineering. Electrathon specifications require all cars to use the same electric motor, which runs off of two 12-volt car batteries. Materials and designs are entirely up to individual builders.

“Despite the rain, it was a fun race,” Castro said. “We’ve been building these cars since the beginning of the year and it’s great to finally get to race them … I can’t speak for everyone but I think we all had a pretty good time even though we were completely soaked by the end of the race.”

Instructor Jeff Blackman is in charge of the program at HRVHS.

“This is the best group of kids I’ve had,” Blackman said. “The kids are really motivated and they are becoming independent with troubleshooting and improvising. My goal is to have the class be completely independent of me so they can basically fix anything that might come up at a race … This is a major project for these kids. And it’s like someone once said, ‘There’s a million ways to get it wrong and only one way to get it right.’”

The HRVHS fleet of four vehicles will race six more times this spring at Electrathon competitions in Eugene, Pasco, Longview, Mapleton and the season finale at the Portland International Raceway.

Blackman and the class are currently looking for car sponsors, which can have a business logo displayed on the sponsored car. If interested, e-mail Blackman at:


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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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