The project will consist of the design and fabrication of an actual working automobile. The design is based on using a rolling platform of a 2000 Lola Indy Car. The platform has a working suspension, working brakes, steering and structural tub. The tub is a proven ultra strong passenger envelope of the racing car.

The work of the project will require minimum modifications to the platform with primary work related to the design of an electric propulsion system and a lightweight exterior skin turning the open wheeled racecar into a full-bodied car.

The car is designed to travel at 60 miles per hour at a maximum and be able to operate for an hour between charges. It will be a single seat urban alternative energy vehicle. Because of its minimal weight of 1,300 pounds it will show how simplicity and lighter weight can influence performance and energy conservation.


The educational objective is to:
· Give the students the tools to process creative thinking.
· See the potential for realizing dreams in a successful future.
· Instill a greater desire to learn by connecting the process to real life skills.
The process is unique in that it pairs an experienced automotive mentor with each student.

The class, now called “MINDDRIVE”, will continue the principal objectives of the past Creative Studio classes at DeLaSalle Education Center from 2008 and 2010 that primarily taught the process of applying creative thinking to design projects and connecting to the real world of business.

Core educational concepts of math, science, reading and history will be woven thru the work of the class.


MINDDRIVE is about the educational experience for the students. The teaching process is unique, pairing one student to one adult mentor, not always one on one, but in a way that allows the students a direct connection to individual adults.

The adults will work carefully to create “windows” that the students can work within to make decisions themselves in designing and fabricating the project vehicle. The work has been focused to two primary areas: the design of the ultra light body and the electrical propulsion system.

The project will connect the students to the real world, working on important environmental issues of our time. They will learn to understand and breakdown the creative process and learn how to communicate as a team to make progress in an efficient way to meet schedules. In the end the work will be evaluated to see how it met its challenge and how scientifically it performs.

All the mentors have experience as educators of youth, be it through schools or through activities like coaching and Boy Scouts. They all understand the project is that of the students and that they are but enablers.


From the Kansas City Star automotive section, Aug. 28:

Electric car scores with efficiency and creates a bond between mentors, students

By Tom Strongman

FORT STOCKTON, Texas — Who knew, back in January when seven students from Kansas City’s DeLaSalle Charter High School and 11 mentors huddled around the hulk of a well-used Indy car in a freezing-cold shop, that eight months later their project would be the talk of the country.

I was part of the group that hardly knew one another last winter. Over the next eight months this group became a band of brothers that gathered every Saturday morning to work on converting the single-seat Lola to battery power and designing a full-coverage body. The car we created is now getting national and international publicity for its efficiency. Who knew?

The project was the brainchild of Steve Rees, a retired Kansas City architect, former racer, sports car aficionado and part-time teacher at the school. In January, he challenged the group with a vision of an ultra-light, aerodynamic car with electric power. It was to be done by summer.

The students were not mechanics, and there was much to be learned. Adults took the lead.

We shaped a body using a thin wire framework covered by a transparent skin made from a heat-shrinkable material, a 3M product that is used to cover windows. A fiberglass body was made, but it was deemed to be too heavy. We returned to the wire frame and transparent skin. That body weighed about 40 pounds.

Bridgestone got involved by doing research to determine which of its tires had the lowest rolling resistance. Marty Yurjevich and Jon Stuckey from Bridgestone visited the school, supplied tires and wheels for the car and displayed the non-running car in their garage during the Indy 500. They offered the Texas Proving Ground track for testing.

Once the car was back in Kansas City, the drive system was completed and 21 lithium-ion batteries, rated at 180 amp hours, were installed. A donor supplied the batteries.

In early August, the car was hauled to Bridgestone’s test track in west Texas. This 7.7-mile oval is one of the largest in the world. Three Kansas City students, Duley, Ramirez and Knighten, flew to Texas along with local go-kart racer Natalie Fenaroli from Raymore. Ramirez and Fenaroli shared the driving. Six mentors were there as well.

On Aug. 10, the racer turned it first lap of the track. The car was geared to have a top speed of 42 miles an hour. The quest was to measure how far the car could travel per kilowatt-hour of energy used but we had no precise idea of what its efficiency would be. The result exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Bridgestone engineers helped record data. Converting miles per kilowatt-hour into a miles-per-gallon equivalent is one way of measuring efficiency. The DeLaSalle car achieved the equivalent of nearly 300 miles per gallon. News of the car exploded around the Internet.

Our improbable band of brothers had succeeded, and the fact that the car’s skin had no color was a perfect metaphor. We were a family, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, and the friendships that we built would have a lasting impact on each of us.

For more information or to follow the project, go to


SteveEPK.jpgRichard Stephen Rees, Founder and CEO of MINDDRIVE
Experience in automobile racing, architecture

Steve Rees has a background in social responsibility and creativity that goes back to the first Earth Day in 1972. He studied at Kansas State University and the Institute for the Study of Health and Society in Washington DC. He was an early activist in the environmental movement, serving on a student advisory board to the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency.

His passion was design and architecture. He was the principal partner in a forty person architectural firm that did work internationally and throughout the United States. Projects included a hospital on the West Bank of the Jordon, the million square foot Harry S. Truman State Office Building in Missouri and had a retail component that included more than 80% of all Sprint and Nextel retail stores nationwide.

Selling his architectural practice in 2007 Steve then pursued his second passion for education, developing a unique creative educational process at the DeLaSalle Education Center. His process involved teaching students models for creative solutions while involving mentors from the professional world to participate. Two early classes culminated in the design of automotive concept studies. The current recent project has taken the finished product to a new level with the class producing an operating electric vehicle. The class is made up of at-risk high school students from Kansas City’s urban core.

The class is organized to inspire students to want to learn through one on one academic and social interaction between the students and mentors, working on real world projects that are current and relating to the environment.

The projects are selected to expand the student’s experiences so that they have a much broader and projected vision of their future. The mentors are an important component, being role models that are professionals with successful business and personal lives. In the end the most important thing is their continuity, always being there for the students.

Linda_EPK2.jpgLinda Buchner, President of MINDDRIVE
Cause Marketing and Public Relations

Linda’s personal mission statement is to “inspire creativity and spirituality by opening minds, healing situations and bringing peace to the moment.” But all that warm fuzziness doesn’t mean that she’s not one smart and savvy businessperson. She’s tenacious, a lover of adventure and always in search of yet another challenge. She is a believer in under promising and over delivering and her clients will tell you that that over delivering is something Linda can routinely be counted on to do.

Linda’s 20+ years of experience in marketing, media, PR and photography make her an excellent addition to any team and she’s especially adept at brand building, strategic thinking and efficiently and effectively managing a project from start to finish – with consistently great results.
Find out more at

In January 2010, Linda launched a second company, Causenation, which focuses its energy on joining brands with non-profit entities for the mutual benefit of both. Cause Branding is something she is extremely passionate about and, through this company, she utilizes her experience, strategic mind, and connections to make a difference for both companies and non-profits, as well as in the lives of many people.

Tom_EPK2.jpgTom Strongman, Vice President of MINDDRIVE
Mentor, automotive journalist

Tom got interested in photography and automobiles at an early age. When he was 11 he and his brother built a unique hot rod that used the frame of a Crosley station wagon and a model T body. He acquired his love of photography from his dad, a newspaper photographer.

Tom graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He joined The Kansas City Star as a staff photographer in 1979, was Art Director of the Star Sunday magazine and became the Director of Photography. Tom began writing new-car reviews in his spare time in an effort to combine his interest in cars with his background in journalism. He became the Star’s Automotive Editor in 1991, where he singlehandedly produced and edited two automotive sections each week. In 2001, he left the paper to become a contract employee and to freelance. Each week his work appears in the Star and more than 30 papers. He also does a weekly TV car review for Kansas City’s NBC affiliate, KSHB.

Tom is the author of “Wheels of Dreams, Vintage Cars and the People Who Love Them.” His book is a compilation of photographs and stories about people who have a special attachment to their vintage vehicles.

Tom has covered all aspects of the automotive business for more than 25 years. He has travelled widely, photographing Formula One races both here and abroad as well as the 24 Hours of LeMans, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. He regularly attends new-model introductions and international auto shows. His career has placed him in contact with many of the leaders of the auto industry and vintage-car collecting.

Tom was peripherally involved with the two DeLaSalle auto design projects, and this year he has been a full-time mentor as a communicator and documentary photographer, designing and updating the website each week.


· Firestone Firehawk and Bridgestone Ecopia tires, as well as wheels and technical support, the Bridgestone Americas Tire Technology Team

· Aaron Holstrom at Bob Hindson Racing, Inc.: Shop Space

· Chrysler Group: Dodge Ram Pickup Tow Vehicle

· Ford: for sponsoring a trip to the Design Center

· Regal Plastics: Donation of Skin Material

· Missouri Poster Banner & Sign: Banners

· Keystone Automotive Industries: Paint.

· Wilwood Engineering: Brakes.

· Chuck Haines: Can-Am Cars LTD, St. Louis, Missouri

Mike Blood supplied the electric motor

Special thanks to:
Jeff McCormick - Rocket Motors, Inc.
Greg Welch Fabrications
Toyota USA, Lexus Division: Vehicle Loan
VA Medical Center Infusion Center: First Aid Supplies
Big W Industries, Kansas City, Kan.: Tour Sponsor
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