Brentwood Formula 1 team racing to raise funds for trip to world finals
The success of a miniature race car designed and built by a team of Brentwood High School students is taking them to Abu Dhabi in November to compete in the world finals of F1 in Schools.
“It’s kind of insane. We’re always used to this small town vibe where everybody knows each other…. and we’re going to one of the richest cities in the world,” said junior Ethan Wright, 17, who serves as head manufacturing engineer for the team.
The F1 in Schools program (formerly Formula 1 in Schools), which ties together science, technology, engineering, art and math, requires students to form a miniature race car business in which they work together to build the vehicles, raise funds, design a “pit display,” create a brand for their team and give a presentation on their work.
Over the last several years, Brentwood has become a standout in F1 in Schools. This is the third team from the small district, with about 1,200 students, to qualify for the world competition in the last six years.
Members of this year’s team, named Team Valkyrie, say it’s dedication of students in Brentwood that leads to the repeated success. They put in long hours and keep going even when the tasks get tough.
Team Valkyrie consists of Wright, team manager Abby Klemm, lead design engineer Peter Carozza, lead graphic designer Paige Umbel, manufacturing design engineer Aidan Davis, assistant graphic designer Paige Mortimore and graphic designer Ceci Foley.
Technology, engineer and design teacher Beau Sedlar and digital media teacher Jennifer Hughes oversee the program.
The team started working on their car in February 2018. They’ve spent an estimated eight to nine hours a week working on the project.
Hughes estimates Carozza, 17, spent as many as 400 hours behind a computer screen researching, designing new cars and testing them.
Every aspect of the design — from size to weight — has to be built to certain specifications. He makes sure that happens.
The team initially came up with 12 prototypes, including one based off of the $3 million supercar Valkyrie by Aston Martin, Wright said. After narrowing it down, they built six of the prototypes and raced them against each other.
In the end, the Valkyrie design won out — fitting as the team already had selected their name.
Other team members have been working on marketing the car and raising funds.
“It’s very much like running a business. From my perspective, it’s how can I make the best designs on any of our graphics or marketing materials to be recognizable/memorable so that it stands out and people know: This is Valkyrie,” Umbel said.
In February, they competed in the national competition in Austin, Texas. There, they placed third overall and were named knockout champions and top research and development team in the U.S.
Hearing they were heading to the world competition was surreal. They knew they were one of the top teams but it still came as a shock, Umbel said.
“When they said ‘Third place team, going to worlds…’ It was like, ‘Wait a second, we did it?’ ” Wright said.
While winning a place in worlds was great, now the team needs to raise the money to get there.
Hughes estimates they need an additional $20,000 on top of the $10,000 already raised.
The school district plans to help with registration fees, Hughes said. But it’s up to the students to come up with the rest.
To raise the money, team members are meeting with businesses and asking for donations. They’re selling 50-50 raffle tickets that will be pulled on July 4, when the team will appear in Brentwood’s Fourth of July parade. They have restaurant fundraisers in the works.
They’re also raising money through GoFundMe: gofundme.com/brentwoodf1.
“We’re utilizing every single connection that all of us have,” Klemm said.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Umbel added.
To prepare for Abu Dhabi, Hughes has set up a Skype meeting with a teacher in the country to learn about the culture and important places for the team to visit.
But mostly, they have one goal.
“We want to be international champions,” Klemm said.