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PROVO — A flash of blue is speeding by, a champion not for speed, but for how it is powered. BYU just brought home the first place trophy, at the international 2012 Formula Hybrid competition, at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"We ended up winning the whole competition by 3/1000th of a point, so it was a very stiff competition," said Engineering student Hank Iroz. They competed agaist 40 other universities to come out on top.
BYU engineering students have been working on this car known as hybrid blue all year long. 16 engineers spent 7500 man-hours building the ethanol and electric powered hybrid, not only taking first in acceleration, but also endurance, with 25 percent of its power still left.
"This is a huge milestone for the competition, and I imagine in years to come they will decrease the energy allotment, as we proved this year we could be just as fast as everybody else, with a lot less energy," Iroz said.
Their professor, Robert Todd is taking Hybrid Blue for one more spin. He is retiring after a long career teaching engineering at BYU.
Hybrid Blue has a 100-horsepower, 450-pounds- of-torque engine that runs off both a 72 lithium polymer-celled battery back and E-85 Fuel.
"Cars are a fascinating machines and how they changed the world. They are a great tool to help students learn," Todd said.
Todd has always loved learning from cars. He built his first go-cart when he was seven.
"My mom and dad let me buy my first car when I was 12 years old, with the understanding that I take it all apart so I could learn about cars," Todd said.
Todd went on to work for General Motors and Michelin before starting his teaching career in 1989.
"I have a 1931 model A Roadster that I'm restoring, that I'll work on when I have time," he said.
While Todd has worked to push his students to develop the future of automobiles, with a lot of success, in retirement, he's looking forward to enjoying cars of the past.
BYU engineering students just won an international competition involving 40 universities for their design of a hybrid formula-style race car. They did it as their longtime professor or "coach" prepared for retirement.