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Electric car built by BYU students sets world land speed record


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BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS — A nearly 8-year quest by more than 130 BYU engineering students has ended with a world record.

On a cool, crisp September morning at the Bonneville Salt Flats, their electric car broke a land speed record averaging 155.8 mph, with the fastest qualifying run clocking in at an amazing 175 miles per hour.

“This is a wonderful closure to 31 years of teaching at BYU and many projects,” Perry Carter, who just retired as an associate professor, said after the record was certified. “But this is the one that takes the cake. I’m done.”

The group of BYU students and professors built a streamliner vehicle using a long, slender shape and enclosed wheels to reduce air resistance. The car, named “Electric Blue,” competed in the E1-class, which includes cars weighing less than 1,100 pounds.

"No previous record in that class. No other vehicles in that class,” Carter said. “We're breaking new ground."


On a cool, crisp September morning at the Bonneville Salt Flats, their electric car broke a land speed record averaging 155.8 mph, with the fastest qualifying run clocking in at an amazing 175 miles per hour.

The results astonished the team and its captain Kelly Hales.

"It's an unusual environment. You can't go test a car anywhere. You can't go out and just over 300 mph on the freeway,” Hales explained. “It's hard to find a place to test."

“This is like Christmas morning,” said Jeff Baxter, a former student captain on the project who returned to Utah to witness the record-setting runs, “but like five Christmas mornings — or seven Christmas mornings!”

Last year, the team did test the car a bit. They completed a qualifying run at 139 mph.But on the second required run, the car rolled. The driver was OK, and the team went back to the drawing board. "It was a learning experience,” Hales said. “Of course, it was disappointing."

“We now have a record,” Carter said. “Whatever we did, we wanted to go home with a record and not a pile of parts."

Because they believe the streamliner will go faster, they will go back for another run. The field is wide open. Electric Blue is the only car weighing in at under 1,100 pounds, and Carter said he doesn't know of any others being built right now.

But in the meantime, Electric Blue sits in the Crabtree Technology Building on the BYU campus.

Email:lprichard@ksl.com

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