Chris Thomsen's challenge on Saturday nights is racing his North Central Speedway Pure Stock racer around the one-third-mile dirt track.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, his challenge was piloting one of the Brainerd High School single-seat cars around Brainerd International Raceway's 3-mile road course in the 17th annual Supermileage Challenge sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
Unlike barreling hard into NCS' turns behind the wheel of his Pure Stocker, Thomsen did a lot of coasting in this all-aluminum car powered by a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine to get the most gas mileage. The vehicle that goes the farthest on the least amount of fuel wins.
Four single-seat cars coasted up Brainerd International Raceway's turns during the 17th annual Supermileage Challenge.
"It's fun," he said before he strapped in for the car's 16th lap Wednesday. "It's not exactly like the race car."
The other driver of the car, Robert Mueller, said his feet got numb. "Time goes by fast," he said.
Mueller said he would shut the car down and coast at about 10 mph. "Then give her heck again," he said.
Thomsen said on the 16th lap he drove into the middle of the corners, fired the engine, then coasted. The car made 344 miles per gallon on this lap.
Keith Anderson, chairman of the challenge, said originally the cars attempted to keep a 15 mph average. But at the collegiate level, students learned that racing up to 30 mph and coasting made better mileage.
This Brainerd car also cruised past the school's record of 222 miles per gallon on its first lap (it got 275 miles per gallon).
The maximum speed is 30 mph. Instead of a speedometer in the car there is a Global Positioning System that records time and speed.
The state record for miles per gallon is 1,322.
Chris Thomsen climbed in one of the two Brainerd High School's cars Wednesday during the 17th annual Supermileage Challenge at Brainerd International Raceway.
Anderson said weather plays a huge part. The day the state record was set was 80 degrees, sunny and calm. "Wind really affects these cars more than anything," he said.
The cloudy weather didn't affect attendance. There were 97 schools competing from as far away as Chicago and Fort Francis, Ontario. The record is 98 schools.
Anderson said three or four new schools attend the challenge each year.
There are four classes: Box stock, modified, E85 and experimental. No modifications of any kind are allowed in box stock. Several modifications, including fuel injection and different camshafts, are allowed in modified. E85 burns E85 fuel and a Briggs and Stratton four-cycle micro engine powers the experimentals.
Both of Brainerd's cars were stock. The other one was driven by Matt Japp, Jason Koering and Kenny Gangestad. The pit crew for both cars included Cody Kruchten, Matt Fleischhacker, Dave Underwood, Mike Langerman and Zach Teerhar.
Mike Reeser, instructor of the small engine class at the BHS Farm and adviser for Brainerd students in the challenge, said the design of the car and the gear ratio assisted in the cars being good coasters.
Coasting to new school records that is.
clint wood can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5869.
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