The race is set to move for next year’s edition from Houston to Detroit, attracting at least 1,000 engineering and science students from universities and high schools across North and South America.
The Shell Eco-marathon, which also calls for a gathering of experts, would see the teams race on downtown streets a slew of futuristic high-efficiency vehicles. The marathon and an associated conference are alone expected to draw 1,500 to 2,000 participants, besides the spectators coming for the races.
“It’s a tremendous learning experience for the kids. They learn they can make anything they can dream up,” said Michael Bindon, a physics teacher at University of Detroit who competed with his team of students for the last three years.
“Detroit has always been about innovation,” Niel Golightly, Shell vice president for external affairs, said. “The mayor and the city have been incredibly welcoming and supportive.”
Unlike other motorsport competitions, which usually focus on speed and loudness, the Eco-marathoners search alternate fuels and electric powertrains in their quest to the ultimate hyper-fuel efficient vehicle. In the prototype category for example – the pinnacle section of the competition, cars can go as far as 3,000 miles on a gallon of gasoline, while also reaching at least an average speed of 15 mph.