Manatee Slipstream team dominates F1 national championship

acastillo@bradenton.comMay 19, 2014 

From left: Hannah Figueras, graphic designer; Merritt Kendzior, team manager and design engineer; Madelyn Kumar, resource manager; Victoria Sinclair, graphic designer and manufacturing rngineer; and Domenic Aluise, manufacturing and design engineer. PHOTO PROVIDED

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- A cluster of teenagers from Manatee County will head to Abu Dhabi this fall to show the world what they have to offer.

Slipstream Racing, a team of five students from Manatee County schools, won the USA Society for Automotive Engineers F1 in Schools National Championship this weekend at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

The championship team includes: freshman Merritt Kendzior, team manager/design engineer, and freshman Madalyn Kumor, resource manager, Southeast High School; sophomore Hannah Figueras, graphic designer, and sophomore Domenic Aluise, manufacturing engineer/car design engineer, Braden River High School; and eighth-grader Victoria Sinclair, graphic designer/manufacturing engineer, R. Dan Nolan Middle School.

"At first we were totally in shock. When they called our name, we were basically numb... first from the cold because it was freezing and also from the excitement in the air," said 15-year-old Madalyn Kumor, whose role includes recruiting sponsors, sending monthly newsletters and updating social media.

The multifaceted competition, which challenges students to design, manufacture and race miniature compressed air-powered balsa wood F1 cars and deliver a verbal presentation, interview and marketing display, is backed by F1 in Schools, the world's largest and most successful school-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program with representation in 43 countries.

The F1 in Schools challenge is designed to inspire students to learn about physics and aerodynamics and design, manufacture and apply them in a practical, imaginative and competitive way.

Slipstream Racing will represent the United States

at the F1 in Schools World Finals in November at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in conjunction with the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grande Prix.

Domenic Aluise spoke excitedly about the team's win and efforts.

"We put 200-plus hours in ... in the past three months alone," the 17-year-old said over the phone Sunday afternoon. "It was an everyday thing ... just laboring over our projects because we really wanted to represent Bradenton well."

Domenic, whose job was mainly to ensure the 3D computer-aided software the team used to design the car transformed as accurately as possible to the car created in real life, said he was nervous out of his mind before the team was named the winner.

"We're competing with kids all across the country," he said, adding his team all jumped when they won. "We were elated... beyond happiness."

Enigma Racing, another Manatee County team of five students, finished among the top 10 teams and won the trophy for best verbal presentation. The Enigma Racing team includes: junior Sean Martin, engineering manager, junior Anya Patel, resource manager, and junior Thomas Whitaker, website designer, Southeast High; junior Joseph Komor, team manager and graphic designer, Manatee High; and freshman Alex Hartley, design engineer, Lakewood Ranch High.

Margi Nanney, Southern Region coordinator for F1 in Schools, said she is proud of the students.

"I was very gratified to see them carry on the winning tradition of Manatee County. Our goal is to take Australia off the podium," she said. "I think this team can do that."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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