Racing Towards Change


Katie Tanner, Writer

Greenpower USA is an organization that allows students to explore their interests in engineering and cultivates necessary “soft skills” like teamwork, and leadership. Students come together in teams to build one seater, battery-powered cars. There are typically three races per year, but as the organization grows more events are created. Races are 90-minute endurance competitions, focused on who can last all 90 minutes and how many laps they completed in that time.

Patriot Racing is one of these such teams, based out of Bob Jones High School. Unlike many teams, Patriot Racing has two cars, “The Flash” and “The Rival” (red and blue team, respectively).  

The team meets twice weekly with their coach, Kris Kasprzak, from Siemens, and their teacher sponsor, Jessye Gaines. They have meetings throughout school breaks as well, including summer vacation and fall break. Their time and efforts are well rewarded, as they’ve won the national championship every year since 2015, three of the four years the team has even existed.

As Greenpower USA becomes a more mainstream program, more students have wanted to try out for the Patriot Racing team. In a poll, 37.9% of student responses said that they might be or definitely were interested in applying for the coming season.  

Patriot Racing has recently announced via social media that they are in the process of building a third car, “The Patriot”, that will then be given to a new “white team”, to complete red, white, and blue. This new car will be entirely custom, built from the ground up, versus using the usual metal kit frame. The car will become the responsibility of Patriot Racing’s seniors.

This new car will make its debut at the Diverse Power Grand Prix in LaGrange, Georgia in February.

Jessye Gaines, the Patriot Racing teacher sponsor, feels that “adding a custom car will allow our senior members a very unique learning experience”. She adds that “[they] will be applying all of the skills they’ve gained while on Patriot Racing to one final project before they leave BJHS.”

According to Mrs. Gaines, the new car won’t only affect the seniors, it will “allow more students to be hands-on as we increase the amount of work our team has to accomplish”.

The new projects and upcoming race haven’t slowed down some members of the team, as the newest female team members, Rachael Young and Katie Tanner, recently attended a day-long soldering class at STI Electronics, where they, accompanied by members of Bob Jones’ Society of Women Engineers, created mini, light-up Christmas trees. They will use these new skills in their work for Patriot Racing, especially as the team’s workload grows.