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Got Wheels?

Garrett Windschitl is particular about his wheels. Their design and material, how they mount to the car, how freely they spin – these are all details on which Garrett spent hours researching. It’s this attention to detail that he credits for his triumph in the High School Dragster Design event at the 2012 Technology Student Association National Conference.

A junior at James Bowie High School of Arlington, TX, Garrett said the car is a result of “trying to find the best products, a lot of material planning. Aerodynamics was a good portion, but most of it was material planning.” The most challenging part of the project, he added, “was getting the axle and wheel section set up just perfectly.”

The 16 finalists hailed from five states – Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Remarkably, the builders of the two cars sitting on the track are not only from the same state – they are classmates. Merritt Kendzior, the builder of Kamikaze, and Hayden Kennelly, builder of Ink Jet, both attend Louise R. Johnson Middle School in Bradenton, FL.

His efforts paid off. The wheels on his car, like many of the finalists in the event, would continue spinning long after the car had come to a stop at the end of its run. When asked about the materials and techniques they used to minimize rolling friction, Garrett and his advisor, Andy Barrett, simply exchanged looks and laughed, not willing to disclose their trade secret.

Garrett plans to attend MIT in the future to study industrial and computer engineering. As a junior, he still has another year of TSA competition left – we’ll be looking for him in 2013 in Orlando, FL! His advice to newbie CO2 racers – “Shape is a big focus, but getting your wheels to work is probably the most important thing.”