The iconic Hethel test track has been a vital element in the creation of Lotus road and race cars since 1966, as well as vehicles developed by the Lotus Engineering consultancy for its client base.
As you’d expect, its 2.2 miles of challenging tarmac has hosted countless famous faces over the years – Lotus F1 drivers, music stars, actors, influencers and other celebrities.
What’s less known is that it also hosts an annual event which aims to get young people enthusiastic about science and engineering. The challenge, part of a nationwide competition, is for them to design, build and race an electric car.
It’s organised by Greenpower Education Trust, a UK charity which has run similar events for more than 20 years, and the 2022 edition was held in glorious Norfolk summer sunshine.
Young people travelled from schools and colleges all over the country – Lincolnshire, Essex, Sussex, Surrey, London and Cheshire – and several were competing for the first time.
There were two classes of racing cars, each with sub-categories – F24 for 11 – 16-year-olds, using three drivers per car and running the pit-stops themselves; and F24+, for 16 – 25-year-olds in education or apprenticeships.
In total 46 teams competed with two races for IET F24 (each lasting 90 minutes) and one race for IET F24+ (over 60 minutes). A highlight for the teams was that a brand new Lotus Emira led out every first lap as the pace car.
A dozen volunteers from Lotus provided invaluable scrutineering, marshalling and other support services to assist the Greenpower team in making the day run as smoothly as possible.
At the end of the day, Clive Chapman – Managing Director of Classic Team Lotus and son of Lotus co-founders, Colin and Hazel Chapman – awarded the trophies and medals to the competitors. It was a great way to round off a day of highly enjoyable racing.
Michele Augousti, CEO Greenpower Education, said: “The Greenpower events are all about creativity and innovation, aiming to engage young people in hands-on challenges to spark their interest in engineering to go onto STEM careers.”
She continued “With the challenge of Greenpower events, participants gain insight into the design and manufacturing process, as well as the fun and competitive nature of building and racing. By working with 11-25 year olds we also hope to break down stereotypes and promote diversity in engineering. We are lucky to be able to host our events at prestigious venues such as the Lotus test track, and thank all the Lotus volunteers who continue to contribute to the success of this event.”
Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars said: “We always enjoy hosting the Greenpower heats on the test track. It’s exactly the sort of thing it should be used for at weekends. This year’s event produced exciting racing and it’s great to see students putting their science, technology, engineering and maths learnings to practice. It also helps develop invaluable teamwork skills that they can apply throughout their education and career.”
More information about Greenpower Education Trust can be found at greenpower.co.uk