Hydrogen car team returns early without racing

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | 4:43 p.m. CDT; updated 1:21 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — After three years of design, construction and testing, all the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team needed was a little more time.

The team was set to participate this week in the North American Solar Challenge as a demonstration vehicle, but team members decided to come back early rather than risk racing a potentially unsafe car. The decision was made Friday afternoon while the vehicle was undergoing a safety inspection in Cresson, Texas.

“We didn’t want to risk ourselves in the car,” said Sarah Scully, who will be the team’s president for the upcoming academic year.

Scully said the team simply had too much left to fix in too little time. The car’s brake light, body and radio all needed repairs.

“We were essentially catching up to all the other teams,” she said.

Marty Walker, director of administrative services for the MU College of Engineering, said student design teams often experience problems such as this one as competition dates grow nearer because team members are under additional pressure to get things done on time.

“Those who are 100 percent contributing members end up being 150 percent contributing members,” said Walker, who is also the adviser to MU’s Society of Automotive Engineers chapter and the university’s Formula SAE racing team.

Scully emphasized that her team made its decision on its own and not under pressure from race officials or any other group.

“We were doing this on our own terms,” she said.

She said the team is looking for a future event in which the car might be able to participate.

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