Welding and Wheeling: Week 4 of summer camp in retrospect

This week at the World of Speed Summer Camp we hosted a new age group of grades 10-12. There were two programs. Each with a different focus on the motorsports industry.

The Racing 101 group spent most of their time out at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex laying down lap times and breaking track records. First they did some practice runs on the simulators to warm up. 16 year-old Natalie remarked after doing a set of laps in the Lotus simulator: “I realized later how tense I was. I had to laugh and loosen up.” She and her bother Andson learned very quickly, honing their practice times to the limit. As soon as they were ready for the real thing, we went out to the track to test their newfound racing knowledge. “I feel a little sloppy,” said 17 year-old Andson. His driving was anything but sloppy, coming very close to the current month’s record at Pat’s Acres. Starting in the 56 second lap range, he chopped it down to a slim 51.674 on the last attempt. His sister would follow suit, winning one if the competition races and fending off the other drivers with an impressive 52.554 lap attempt. “It seems like I know how to find the apex better. That last session was visibly smoother,” she remarked. It is all about the learning curve in racing and with plenty of practice any age can be competitive.

One of our driving instructors, Ryan, said goodbye this week on his road to racing in Germany, but he couldn’t leave without teaching our Racing 101 group about racing lines and how to set the car up on the turns. We learned a lot by the end of the week both on the track and in the museum but there's always more to learn! They'll be joining us later in the summer for the next level of education we offer here: Racing 201.

The Introduction to Automotive Fabrication class learned just what their program described: how to use tools to cut, grind and weld. Most days of the week long class were spent seeing actual applications of welding by visiting different facilities in the area. On the first day they got up close and personal with our Jungle Jim car we have on the showroom floor to take measurements for scale models. During the day metal frames came to life and the excitement bulit for actual welding. The first tour was Metal Technology Incorporated in Albany where there was equipment unlike the students had seen anywhere else. The following day the group went to FOODesign and learned about the importance of welding inside food safe equipment. As soon as they returned to the museum they strapped on the welding gear and went to work on some scrap metal. As a thank you to the program, the students even designed and fabricated a World of Speed sculpture. On Friday the students had the wonderful opportunity to tour Daimler’s facility on Swan Island. Thanks go to Mark Markstaller, who is no stranger to speed fabrication. He and his team have been working to design and build a motorcycle that would break the current land speed world record of 376 miles per hour.  15 year-old Evan loved how close they could get to the equipment. “The giant wind tunnel for the trucks was so cool. They said it was the only one like it in the world!” he exclaimed. 14 year-old Owen was very pleased with the camp overall this week. “I got to weld which is dangerous and cool. It’s like something that I can do in the real world if I ever get the chance.” Looks like it was a another fast and productive week at the World of Speed.