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Getting a charge out of electric go-carts.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

LANE COUNTY FAIR

David Pottorf should have worn a long sleeved shirt Sunday.

The Willamette High School student was finishing his turn racing a homemade electric go-cart when he lost control of his car and barreled into a barricade.

He dropped his left arm to prevent the electric go-cart from flipping over and in the process scraped his forearm along the asphalt.

"I got a nice raspberry," Pottorf, 17, said of his injury before heading off to the first-aid station.

The demonstration of electric cars was part of "Sustainable Sunday," a collection of vendors promoting recycling and alternative energy sources on the final day of the Lane County Fair.

Willamette High classmate Natasha Sutton, 17, said it's not unusual to crash in the go-carts, but there are never serious injuries.

"They're really a lot of fun and easy to handle when you get the callouses built up on your hands," she said.

The electric cars were designed and built by Willamette's vehicle and energy education program. The cars run on 12-volt batteries.

Some of the cars resemble the junkers seen on Mad Max movies, while others offer a sleek aerodynamic chassis like a miniature version of a Formula 1 racer.

Pottorf and five other Willamette students from the class sped around a racing oval of fluorescent orange traffic cones. Unlike other races, the electric car demonstration did not have the noxious odor of fuel or the ear-splitting roar of a gas guzzling internal combustion car.

"Electric cars are not the wave of the future, but for around town they're great," said Mike Hodgert, a physics teacher at Willamette High who oversaw the demonstration.

Lee Shoemaker, Eugene's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, agrees.

A tire iron's toss from the student-made electric cars, Shoemaker was showing off one of the city's two electric cars. The two-seat car manufactured by Global Electric Motorcars resembles a bloated roller-skate.

In May, the city bought two of the cars, which plug into a 12-volt battery and top out at 25 mph, he said.

"For running errands and going to work they're wonderful," Shoemaker said of the car's that have a sticker price of $7,000.

With a driving range of 30 miles before recharging, the electric car is ideal for city folks, he said.

Also part of the eco-friendly demonstration was a "trashy" fashion show. Items were literally retrieved while Dumpster diving.

The haute trash fashion show featured models wearing discarded mesh floor mats, cardboard liquor bottle cases and a discarded orange life vest coupled with a bra made of wine corks.

"I believe I'm a cost conscious and savvy shopper," said Marie Sullivan of Salem. "But there's no way I'm going to wear a bra made of wine corks."
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Title Annotation:Festivals; On "Sustainable Sunday" at the county fair, Willamette High students demonstrate what it takes to blaze a battery-powered, eco-friendly trail
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 21, 2006
Words:458
Previous Article:Biofuel outlet nears opening.
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