Inspire Academy competes in Columbus Grand Prix

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

Special to the Times

Inspire Academy students traveled to Columbus, Georgia, on Saturday, Feb. 12, to compete in the Columbus Grand Prix racing event. The Sports Council of Columbus hosted the Columbus Grand Prix at the Columbus Civic Center Complex. 

The Inspire Academy racing team competed throughout the day with multiple schools with hundreds of participants from Alabama and Georgia. The day concluded with a race day awards program that saw the Inspire Academy racing team take home their share of hardware awards. 

The students from Inspire Academy compete as The Piedmont Motorsports Racing Team, comprised of students from across the Chambers County School District. Competitions included Greenpower USA F24 electric car endurance racing, High School Advanced Custom Class Racing, and Middle School Intermediate Stock Class Racing. Team coaches are Mr. Seth Stehouwer and Mr. Tim Blanks, who serve as teachers at Inspire Academy, and assistant coach Brandi Burrows. 

The high school Advanced Custom Class Race called for the team to make significant modifications to a stock car kit with custom parts designed to improve performance and efficiency.  The Middle School Intermediate Stock Class Race saw the Inspire Academy students race a stock kit car donated by Honda Manufacturing.  The younger racing team members learn about the fundamentals of electric cars, racecar setup details, and tips to help determine the best possible outcome for their car.  These include driving skills, car maintenance, and efficiency tips for successful competition in their class.  Both teams competed in two race heats for their respective advanced or intermediate divisions.

The high school team won first place for the Endurance race with their Car #222 traveling 35 miles.  The team finished in 2nd place overall for the entire competition.  High school team members are (Captain) Connor Green, Jason Robinson, Michael Jones, Garrett Burrows, Harley Gosdin, Aaron Foster, Gabriel Gilbert, and Akasha Henderson.  The middle school team also captured first place for the endurance race with their Car #223 traveling 36 miles.  Middle school team members are (Captain) Anna Suchowalec, Cameron Kennedy, Timothy (Bryce) McDonald, Landon Smith, Lance Wright, Jayden Green, Arianna Strickland, Rowan Jordan, and Chelsea Clark.

The racing teams set up pit crew stops on pit road on the main infield for the racing track.  All drivers went through the driver safety training meeting, and cars were scrutinized closely for modifications to ensure compliance.  Each car used a transponder to track the number of laps traveled during each of the four racing heats hosted for competition. 

“The racing team is a great activity for students participating in the school’s engineering program,” Inspire Academy Principal Dr. Tyler Nelson said

The next race for the Piedmont Motorsports Racing team from Inspire Academy will take place on Saturday, March 12, 2022, on the campus of Inspire Academy in LaFayette.  The start time is set for 8 a.m. CST, and the race day awards ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. CST.  Guests are welcome, and admission is free on race day.