About evGrand Prix
evGrand Prix was started in 2009 at Purdue University. Professor James Caruthers in Chemical Engineering was awarded a $6 million grant from the Department of Energy to expand electric vehicle education through a competitive racing event. This was the beginning of collegiate electric karting.
The inaugural race took place in 2010 with universities coming from all over the country to participate. Races would average between 20-30 karts competing each year. As the event grew in popularity, evGrand Prix began to have teams coming from all over the world including England and China.
In 2013, evGrand Prix partnered with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to host the event in the infield of the world-famous track. The race now takes place just before the Indy 500 each year and is considered part of the 2-week long festivities for the Indy Car event. This means Indy Cars would be practicing around the track as the electric go-karts raced.
Each year, teams have pushed the technological capabilities of their karts further and further. Similar to the early days of combustion engines, evGrand Prix allows for many different drive train combinations to be utilized. Students are encouraged to research new technologies and implement them on their karts, whether it be new motors, high-powered batteries, or even cutting-edge telemetry systems. This is, across the board, true engineering.
In 2015, Purdue decided to expand evGrand Prix’s goal of electric vehicle education into the high school classroom. Purdue President Mitch Daniels introduced an initiative called MSTEM3 which focused on providing STEM-related projects to high schoolers in order to expand their technical skills. And staying true to Indiana’s routes, these projects were to be focused on motorsports and racing. See more at purdue.edu/mstem3
With a less complex drive train and battery system, high schools quickly got involved in MSTEM3 and began racing in the high school evGrand Prix. Teachers started using the provided labs and curriculum to incorporate the go-kart project into their classroom. High school electric karting had officially began, and schools were loving it.
The 2018 evGrand Prix will mark the event’s 9th year of electric go-kart racing. With the collegiate and high school events running smoothly, evGrand Prix is now expanding into the realm of AUTONOMOUS. This coming year, teams will test and race remote-controlled karts as a first step. Then in 2019, evGrand Prix will debut the first collegiate autonomous race of its kind!