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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Turning car enthusiasts into automotive engineers

After years of watching races, they had many conversations about building a go-kart. And both loved the idea of starting a new project.
Building+a+go-kart+from+scratch+requires+a+lot+of+knowledge+of+cars%2C+engines%2C+or+other+forms+of+vehicles.+Gross+and+Tate+both+share+an+interest+in+racing+and+engineering.
Arlo Haug
Building a go-kart from scratch requires a lot of knowledge of cars, engines, or other forms of vehicles. Gross and Tate both share an interest in racing and engineering.

The adrenaline-filled air contaminates the room as the Formula One racers speed by. Eyes determined on the screen, Senior Yash Tate sits alongside Junior Kyle Gross as they watch the inspiring race on TV. One day, Tate and Gross were tired of watching and wanted to be behind the scenes. After years of watching races, they had many conversations about building a go-kart. And both loved the idea of starting a new project.

“It was kind of an idea that we started talking about pretty late last year,” Gross said. “It didn’t seem viable since we didn’t have a set time or plan to work on it. But we found the idea to talk to Ms. Maniscalo about working on it in independent study, and once she agreed to that, it seemed much more plausible since we got a set time to work on it.”

Building a go-kart from scratch requires a lot of knowledge of cars, engines, or other forms of vehicles. Gross and Tate both share an interest in racing and engineering.

“We are both kind of car nerds,” Tate said. “So it’s kind of evolved into something where it’s a personal project, and it’s also a class project. It’s kind of like a mixture now. We are both in our fourth year of engineering, and we’re in physics and calculus. Having all that math and engineering knowledge is helpful because it helps with our planning and also because we can calculate most of the things we need to do at this point.”

Physics is the basis of engineering. This includes engineering methods such as mechanical, electrical, computer, and space, which are all ruled by physics. Without an understanding of physics, it can be pretty difficult to solve complex engineering problems. Even with Tate and Gross taking these complex school courses, it does not make this task easy. With all of the science and math behind building, it’s basically a massive physics problem.

“It’s completely new for me,” Tate said. “I haven’t worked on anything close to this. The most difficult process was finding a working motor. It took us a long time to figure out what kind of motor we wanted, and then even longer to find one that matched all of our standards. We wanted a semi-powerful motorcycle motor. Most of those motors are very big; they are just hard to move around and work on. So we found out that dirt bike engines are much smaller and lighter; they still have pretty high power, but they’re also more expensive. So it took us a lot longer to find one for a good price.”

There is no average cost of building a go-kart. It has many factors that come into play, like the tools they have or need. Also, if they have the parts or need to build them instead of buying them, in addition to cost, the amount of time needed to build a go-kart is not defined. For Gross and Tate, it’s going to take them a little longer since this is all very new for them.

“We’re thinking we might have it fully done by the end of the year,” Gross said. “But it might run into the summer. With things like these, there’s never a timeline that you can follow. It’s more like, Here are some goals for the end of the week; we hope that we meet them. And then we paid a little over $200 for the motor. We were able to get the frame for free because we got it donated by Ann Richards, but you’d pay at least $500 for a good frame, and the condition that we got it in would be closer to the 1000s. So the kart will be pretty expensive.

Although Gross and Tate have done most of the planning, building, and research, extra help is appreciated. Senior Nobel Speer, who has been in motorsport his entire life and has competed in rallycross and autocross events, has helped with research.

“I have helped research karts and motor systems,” Speer said. “For example, the clutch assembly that our current motor needs. Learning more about the mechanics of the kart has increased my knowledge greatly. I’m excited to see what will come of this project, and I’m looking forward to working with Kyle and Yash throughout that process.”

Gross has also raced in autocross and has experience in sim racing as well. Simulated racing, or sim racing, is racing game software that attempts to accurately simulate auto racing. Some F1 drivers own their own simulation setups that they use for additional practice. Tate’s dad is a mechanical engineer, and with both their knowledge, experience, and creativity, they have gained much support from their friends and family.

“Kyle is incredibly ambitious and smart,” Speer said, “coming up with the original idea for the kart a little under a year ago and sourcing our engine. Yash helped prototype a few systems for the kart, like the shifter and motor mounts. He is kind and also very intelligent.”

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