MANATEE -- Sophomore Aubrey Hudson couldn’t find any teacher at Braden River High School who had enough time to be the advisor of a Formula One in Schools racing team this year.
But that didn’t stop Aubrey and four of her Pirate classmates from competing in the prestigious international program that requires students to combine physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship and marketing to build and race a miniature compressed air powered balsa wood F1 car.
Utilizing Aubrey’s mother, Maureen, as their adult chaperone, the five students, who called their team Pirate Racing, finished seventh this past weekend at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula One in Schools USA 2011 National Championships at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.
Although they did not qualify for the upcoming world championships in Malaysia, the team captured the title for Best Verbal Presentation after delivering a flawless eight-minute program to a team of judges.
“It was truly an amazing goal to reach nationals,” said Kali Hoying, 14, the resource manager for Pirate Racing. “I didn’t realize it would be so thrilling to see all our hard work amount to something.”
Formula One in Schools is a global technology program for middle and high school students.
Aubrey, 16, is team manager of Pirate Racing and her crew includes Jeremy Petty, 17, design and manufacturing engineer, Greg Raynor, 17, graphic designer, Mario Palmer, 14, marketing manager and Kali.
“I went to my mom and said, ‘Can you help me think of what we can do?’” Aubrey said in recalling her frustrations at not finding some- one at school to take the project on. “My mom said, ‘You know, you just have to work through it yourselves.’”
The dedicated students met at the Hudsons’ Mill Creek home every Monday night for a year to divide the complex work of building a car using computer technology and figuring out how to raise sponsorship money for materials and travel to competitions.
They munched up tons of pizza and sub sandwiches, and pressed on, dreaming of going to nationals with their silver, black and red car.
“I fed them and ran errands,” Maureen Hudson said. “I think what made this work is that everyone had something different to lend. These kids never bickered. They respected each other and took on their roles wholeheartedly. They became a family.”
The Pirate Racing car burst down a specially designed 65-foot track in Michigan in about 1.3 seconds, a time that left them in the middle of the pack at Nationals and well off the world record of 1.02 seconds set several years ago by an Irish team.
But that didn’t matter, Aubrey said.
“We are proof that you can do anything you set your mind to do,” Aubrey said.
Braden River is not the only Manatee County team that competes in Formula One in Schools.
Southeast High became the world champions in Singapore in September, 2010 and will return to the world championships in September for an unprecedented chance to defend its world title and perhaps become the only team in history to win it two times in a row.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.