TodayApril 16, 2022

2009 Shell eco-marathon winners!

The checkered flag

Finally! It was a long two days out in the California sun and heat. Imagine being one of the drivers in those pods! Spending 45 minutes going around a track in 85-90 degree weather. Did the winner this year beat the old record of 2,843 miles per gallon?

The combustion engine is always the winner.  I don’t know why. More interesting is that there were two diesel engines (College of the Redwoods and Wright State University) and they didn’t win. Neither did the LPG from George Schurr High School. The LPG doesn’t surprise me. LPG doesn’t get as good miles per gallon, even though it has better emissions.

The final results are in and the winners are:

Grand Prize – Combustion Engine

With a mileage of 2,757.1 mpg (1,172.2 kilometers per liter) the Alerion Supermileage team from Laval University in Quebec, Canada won a US$5,000 grand prize with their vehicle, NTF 3.0.

Fuel Cell/Hydrogen
The Penn State University team from University Park, Pa. achieved 1,912.9 mpg (813.2 km/l) in its Blood, Sweat & Gears vehicle.

Solar Power
The Purdue Solar Racing team from Purdue University took first place with its solar vehicle, Pulsar, which achieved 4,913 mpg (2,088.7 km/l).

Grand Prize – Combustion Engine

With a mileage of 433.3 mpg (184.2 kilometers per liter) the Mater Dei Supermileage Team from Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Ind. won a US$5,000 grand prize with their vehicle, Street Buggy.

Special Awards for the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas
Achieving the best fuel economy in a category wasn’t the only way to win at the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Teams were also given the opportunity to compete for one or more Special Awards, including:

Eco-Design Award
A special “Eco-Design Award” was presented to the UCLA team for their Prototype design. Their special design not only contributed to the fuel efficiency of their vehicle but incorporated recycled and eco-friendly materials into the vehicle and production process.

(I think Shell needs to differentiate between what is recycled from last year’s car and what is reused from some other car. There were some first-time entrants that had reused car parts.)

The “Safety Award” recognized three teams who made the most extensive efforts to comply with the safety regulations of the Shell Eco-marathon Americas. This award went to UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Grand Rapids Technical School and Loyola Marymount University. These teams all demonstrated safety as a top priority in vehicle designs and construction.

(It wasn’t just safety in the car either. These teams were carrying umbrellas for their drivers, making sure people were hydrated, picking up stuff off the floor of their stall.)

Technical Innovation
This award was presented to three teams who demonstrated outstanding initiative and technical ingenuity along with optimal use of new materials in the drive train, chassis, instrumentation, and tires. First prize was awarded to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, second prize to Purdue University and third prize to California Polytechnic State University.

(I would have awarded the prize for advanced technology such as Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, or lithium polymer batteries)

The 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas “Design Award” was presented to the Brazilian team from Minas Gerais State University. This award recognized their innovative design research related to ergonomics, aesthetics, choice of materials and technical feasibility. The originality and overall coherence of their design were also taken into account.

(This was a shoo-in. The car was styled like a ’30s Bugatti. If Jay Leno had seen it he would have bought it!)


This award recognized the Dalhousie University team from Canada, who made outstanding communications efforts concerning the Shell Eco-marathon. All actions throughout the year are taken into account: participation at trade shows, creation of a Web site and all other activities that successfully promote the competition, it’s named, it’s founding principle, it’s educational aspects, etc. in the team’s country of origin.

Best Team Spirit
The “Best Team Spirit Award” was presented to the George M. Schurr High School team who fostered cooperation and collaboration among their team and others at the competition. Not only did they demonstrate initiative to learn more about other teams and contribute to the morale at the competition, but they also lent a tire to another team and helped a team in need whose car wasn’t ready to compete by loaning them one of their vehicles to participate in the challenge.

(see my video – Schurr wins team spirit award)

Perseverance in the Face of Adversity

The “Perseverance in the Face of Adversity Award” was presented to two teams – Chitkara Institute of Engineering & Technology in India and Louisiana State University. Both teams overcame many obstacles in order to make it to the Shell Eco-marathon Americas – the team from India not only traveled a very far distance to participate in the event, they also battled many issues with their vehicle, and the team from LSU overcame the loss of a team member, who passed away last year. The team dedicated their Shell Eco-marathon project to this team member, even naming their vehicle after her, Ellen.

(like getting stuck in customs till Friday afternoon, the first day of the event. The EPA was concerned with emissions!)

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.