Almost a year ago we saw the arrival of a kit car, numerous boxes of all shapes and sizes, hundreds of screws, washers and heavy framework at Northgate. This was certainly going to be a challenge to assemble we thought at the time. The car remained in storage for a period of time and made an appearance at the Year 6 open evening as a stand of interest for a STEM project. It was only later on that the decision was made to launch the project and begin the build.
Mrs Beasley initiated the launch and introduction of the car with a school assembly; we were inundated with students wishing to be part of the F24 project. This was quite a challenge for Mrs Beasley to select the driving team behind the build and eventually the race of the F24.
The team was formed and led by Mrs Beasley, like any project you need good leadership, management and technical ability. The management and logistics of the project build was undertaken by Mr MacDonald and the technical build was led by Mr Logan. This was a beginning of a fantastic partnership of team management to ensure the job was done.
The team was finally chosen and the build was underway, under the watchful eye of the engineer, Mr Logan. Jimmy (Year 9), who was part of the ‘build team’, explains what happened on the first ‘build day’.
‘On Wednesday 30th January we had our first build day for the Green Power F24 kit car. Of all the people who are part of the Green Power Team, 5 of us were chosen to do the first build day; me (Jimmy), Kodi (Year 11), Abi (Year 10), Barney (Year 9) and Lily-Mae (Year 7) with help from Mr Logan acting as quality control! We were excused from lessons for the entire day and we assembled the car from the ground up.
In one day we managed to assemble most of the car and we are now close to finishing. Our next build day will consist of fitting the electronics, and fine tuning the rest of the car, ready for racing.’
After a number of painstaking weeks we finished up with a car and sub frame, still being referred to as the F24 kit car.
We had to then think about the bodywork, suitable for the car. This was going to present problems initially due to resources and time. We were under pressure as the first race in Norfolk was due to take place on the Lotus test track on the 8th of June. Mr MacDonald decided to contact a few local businesses to ask for their support. We were extremely fortunate as Nick from Ashton’s Classics agreed to support us with our project with the body design and paintwork.
The F24 was now finished in the workshop and arrived back in school, but without a name or proper identification. This was not going to be a difficult decision and a name was given; ‘Bluepower’.
This was an exciting time and ‘Bluepower’ was beginning to generate quite a bit of interest around school, although we were quite a way from being ready for any race, the momentum was building. Mr MacDonald met with Mrs Beasley to ensure Mr Logan had the apprentice engineers he needed to complete the build. The team was made up of the following students:
Lily Mae (Year 7), Freya (Year 8), Abi (Year 10), Barney (Year 9), Alicia (Year 10), Lauren (Year 8), Ben (Year 8), Kodi (Year 11) (and Jimmy (Year 9) on the build team).
After many hours of drilling, measuring, adjusting and testing we were ready for the track. Just to put the icing on the cake Mr MacDonald in his role of procurement and logistics managed to meet with the director of Countrywide, Mr Will Hancock, who agreed to sponsor the suits and helmets required for the race. It was fantastic to have the support of a local business, willing to help the school and in particular our team to get things underway ahead of the race on the 8th of June.
The time was ticking and we were getting ever so close and another spoke in the wheel tightened. The generosity of local businesses did not stop there. We had the suits but we did not have our name emblazoned on them and thanks to the kindness of Ray at Birds of Dereham, we had the embroidery done and we were starting to look like a professional team of management and racers.
The race day was finally upon us and ‘Bluepower’ was ready for the inaugural race at the Lotus race track.
We had a brilliant day, despite the weather and there is no doubt we formed a team of enthusiastic young engineers of the future. If you work hard success will come to you. We arrived in the morning at the Lotus racetrack overwhelmed by the reception and the number of cars and teams taking part. This event was such a professional set up, initially we were beginning to doubt ourselves as there was a number of serious contenders with a collection of seasons stamped on their cars. We looked around the other paddock set ups and these guys were serious engineers. We were clearly the first time novice team although this did not deter us in anyway. Looking at Bluepower and the markings on each side of the car: Respect, Resilience, Readiness, Reflectiveness, Responsibility, it gave us the lift we needed to get the car out on the track and get rid of any pre –race nerves we had.
The day was filled with the thrills and spills of any race you see on tv, this was a mini circuit for potential drivers and engineers of the future. Team Northgate have been inspired by the whole event. We are all extremely proud of our achievements in such a short space of time and yet amazingly we were awarded with the prize, “The Best Presented Team”. Mr MacDonald said, ‘I cannot express the pride we have accepting this award on behalf of the school. It is clear if you work hard and pull together as a team, never doubting your ability you will make progress and ‘Bluepower’ has done us proud.
What has been gained from the first outing of the car has certainly been a valuable experience, both in terms of working together as a team and also the learning and skills involved. It has exposed the team to greater elements of engineering and we hope inspired them to consider this in the future. We know the importance of academic studies and the commitment that needs to be shown in order to achieve your potential and the spark has clearly been ignited within this group of students who are well on their way.’
Alicia, Year 10 said, ‘I really enjoyed the whole experience, it was great learning bits and pieces about the car and even better fun driving it around the track. I generally loved taking part and helping out and working together as a team even though before we went I didn’t know half of the people. By the end we all knew each other and felt comfortable around each other. I’d like to thank Mr Macdonald and Mrs Beasley for letting me be part of this amazing experience. Thank you to Mr Logan for making sure that Bluepower was running and keeping us warm! It was a pleasure to be part of such a great team and I can’t wait for future races!’
24hrs later and ‘Bluepower’ has had a complete inspection and back in the paddock at Northgate High School, like any treasure it must be well maintained polished and cared for until the next event…
You can see pictures from the start of the build to race day below (click on the pitcures to enlarge them):