|Posted on Feb 13, 2009 11:10:13 AM | Angela Storey | 0 Comments ||
Greetings, racers and moonbuggy enthusiasts! As I write this, we're just 50 days away from the 16th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. Get pumped!
But not TOO pumped. Safety's always first on our minds here at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, which is why all racers compete in helmets and pads, and the winding, obstacle-laden, half-mile course is lined with some 175 hay bales to minimize wipeouts.
But accidents do happen. Check out these photos from the 2008 competition, courtesy of Marshall Center photographer Emmett Given:
A fearsome-looking crash for two intrepid student drivers from Puerto Rico High School in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, who went airborne at top speed just before taking a sharp bend in the course.
But the duo bounced right back up -- and posted the fastest race time of the year among competition newcomers, earning them the 2008 "Rookie Award."
The key to their success? Mike Selby knows. Mike is an engineer in the Parts, Packaging & Fabrication Branch of the Marshall Center's Engineering Directorate. He designs and builds avionics hardware supporting NASA's space shuttles, the International Space Station and Ares I rocket programs. He's also head scorekeeper for the Great Moonbuggy Race and a former racer himself -- for the 1996 college-division champion team from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Speed alone, Selby says, shouldn't be your goal. "My advice is to build a moonbuggy that's as fast AND as durable as you can make it," he says.
And those buggies can get up to greater speeds on the race course than some newcomers might realize. "I don't think a lot of new racers realize much of the course is NOT covered in gravel and sand," Selby says. "There are a lot of straightaways, paved areas where you can build up speed and shave time off the clock. But you're also going to take a pounding going over the obstacles, so it's just as important to focus on building a good, solid structure in order for the vehicle to survive."
Not to mention those elbows and knees.
Keep safety in mind BEFORE the race as well. Be sure all team members use goggles and other safety equipment while working on buggies. Riders should always be properly suited up, belted in and wearing their helmets, safety pads and gloves -- even during routine field testing. Stay safe
Meanwhile, as race day draws closer, we're hearing from teams around the world, and everyone sounds busy and confident. Case in point: students at the Huntsville Center for Technology. The 2007 race champs, who took second AND third place in the high school division in 2008, will field two moonbuggies again this year, and they're hard at work to retake the title.
That's team member Robby McLaughlin on the left and fellow racer Stephen Cantley at right, fine-tuning their buggy hardware as they prep for another test run.
Fifty days from now, they'll be among hundreds of competitors tackling the main event.
Tags : General