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Fuel-efficient driving coming to the raceway

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Sonoma Raceway will host Make the Future California 2018 featuring Shell Eco-marathon Americas for the first time on April 19-22. One-thousand students from high schools and universities throughout North and South America will compete on the Sonoma Raceway road course in one of the world’s leading energy efficiency competitions, including three teams from Northern California universities.

University of California, Berkeley, California State University Sacramento and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo will each field an ultra-energy efficient entry in the Shell Eco-marathon, a global program built to offer students hands-on opportunities to develop ideas, technology, knowledge and skills, within an arena of competition.

Shell Eco-marathon, currently held in Asia, the Americas and Europe, is made up of two key competitions: Shell Eco-marathon Mileage Challenge and Drivers’ World Championship, where students from countries across their respective regions use innovative problem-solving skills to design and build their own cars. Looking at every aspect of design and technology, students compete to prove that their bright ideas will produce the most energy-efficient vehicle when tested on the track.

UC Berkeley’s CalSMV team participated in the Shell Eco-marathon for more than a decade, but hasn’t fielded an entry for the past three years. The team has returned to competition with a brand-new vehicle, Lux, which is driven by a pure battery-electric drivetrain on a carbon fiber body capable of transporting two people.

“We all feel like electric is the future, and we’re proud to be able to say we’re building the future technology,” said team lead Kaamran Syed, a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley. “What drew me to Shell Eco-marathon was the challenge.”

The team will compete for the first time in the UrbanConcept category, which focuses on more “roadworthy” energy-efficient vehicles. CalSMV, which comprises five electrical engineering majors, five mechanical engineering majors and a media director, is nearing the end of the team’s first year together.

“As an engineer, once you start something, it becomes your brainchild and the more invested you become in it; you become so attached to it,” continued Syed. “As a team, we are really excited to come back with a really cool car now that it’s local. We’re so excited to take it out there and see the other cars.”

In addition to UC Berkeley, other Northern California teams entered in the Shell Eco-marathon include EEV at Sac State with the Green Hornet entry in the UrbanConcept category, as well as the Cal Poly Supermileage team with the Donald Duck entry in the Prototype category. Both teams will use gasoline as their energy source.

In the Shell Eco-marathon, cars will drive a fixed number of laps around the .94-mile, five-turn circuit and must maintain a minimum speed. Organizers will then calculate their energy efficiency and name a winner in each class and for each energy source: internal combustion (gasoline, diesel and ethanol), hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric technologies. The Make the Future Festival featuring Shell Eco-marathon will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 19 through Saturday, April 21 and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 22 at Sonoma Raceway. Practice runs will take place on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning with competitions running Friday afternoon through Sunday. The event is free for spectators of all ages and parking is free. For more information on the event, visit www.SonomaRaceway.com or www.Shell.US/makethefuturecalifornia.