DeLaSalle Automotive Design students design and build an electric vehicle

DeLaSalle Education Center is a high school in Kansas City that provides a safe but challenging learning environment for high school students that need an alternative to the traditional system. It has been an important component in the Kansas City educational landscape for over 38 years. It has always been known as a place where innovation and change can happen to maximize the student’s educational opportunities.

The Automotive Design Studio class project for 2010 is an evolution of two previous years of a class called Creative Studio and Entrepreneurial Studies.

The task seemed insurmountable: In five months, design a full body for a single-seat 2000 Lola Indy car, fit an electric motor and to have it travel 60 miles on one battery charge.
That challenge, posed by Steve Rees, was taken by seven students from the DeLaSalle Education Center and 11 volunteer mentors. The mentors are engineers, journalists, architects, automotive technicians and fabricators.
DeLaSalle is a private, tuition-free (soon to become charter) alternative school. This is the third year that a small group of students, under the tutelage of Rees, has designed a car. Rees is an architect, automobile enthusiast and a former racer of classic sports cars.
“We want to give the kids a reason to learn,” Rees said.
The students are Chan Brown, Andrew Deckard, Kelvin Duley, Zack Knighten, Kevon Mebane, Mario Ramirez and John Shaw.
Since January, the group has met every Saturday morning in shop space donated by Aaron Holmstrom of Bob Hindson Racing. The group studied the basics of aerodynamics and electric power before beginning the creation of an efficient and stylish body.
The solution for the body was creative and unique. A salvaged aircraft canopy was placed over the chassis tub. After the students established a basic shape with a wire, heat-shrinkable plastic was stretched placed over the perimeter frame. A heat gun was used to tighten the plastic, and as it did, the body began to assume a shape almost as if it knew what it wanted to be. The result was tight, curvaceous and sleek.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations became involved because it is interested in energy-efficient vehicles, and because its Firestone brand is the official tire of the IZOD IndyCar series. Engineers did theoretical and lab testing to determine which tires would be most efficient. The finished car will be tested in August at the tire company’s test track in Texas.

Project Highlights below

Indy 500 Display

The DeLaSalle car project is on display in the Firestone garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next to Gasoline Alley.

New Performance Data

Don Caffee has reworked the performance data for our vehicle based on his refined CAD drawings, below right.

Ford Motor Company

Two students were invited by Ford to Dearborn.
Kansas City Star The project was featured in the Star's automotive section on May 1.