PALMETTO -- Fast wheels? Southeast High School's Merritt Kendzior, Joe Komor, Sean Martin and Sheel Patel know about them. Lakewood Ranch High's Aly Cote does, too.
The quintet will represent the United States at the ninth annual F1 In Schools World Finals in Austin, Texas, Nov. 9-14. More than 250 student model race car enthusiasts from around the world are expected to attend the event, which coincides with the 2013 Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas.
The five Manatee County high school students comprise Allegiance Racing and hold the USA F1 in Schools National Championship title. They'll unveil their model race car at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at a racing demonstration and sendoff at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County's Palmetto Club, 1600 10th St. W.
"Our kids will love it," said Willie Cooper, Palmetto Club director. "How great is it the Allegiance Racing Team is made up of members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County and they're representing the United States in the World Finals?"
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The international technology competition incorporates every aspect of science, technology, engineering
and mathematics. It is the largest STEM competition in the world.
Students use CAD/CAM software to design, build and test a balsa wood model F1 car powered by compressed air.
A 60-foot track will be set up in front of about 250 club members and Allegiance Racing team members will race CO2-powered balsa cars, which are capable of running the distance in around one second.
F1 in Schools requires teams of three to six students, age 9 to 19, to use computer-aided design and a CNC mill to design and construct identical cars. They must also raise funds to compete, market their team, prepare a 20-page design portfolio, deliver a 10-minute verbal presentation and design and construct a large pit display.
In Texas, Allegiance Racing will compete against 36 teams from 23 countries. Southeast High's Unitus Racing won the 2010 World Finals in Singapore.
"Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County have supported the F1 in Schools technology program since 2006 and we are grateful for their partnership in assisting us toward our goal of competing at the upcoming World Finals," said Cote, Allegiance Racing team manager. "A goal of ours is community outreach to other students ... in hopes they may want to get involved in F1 in Schools."
Margi Nanney and Richard Platt are team advisers.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix