Purdue prodigy is the Indy 500's king of carbon-free racing
The Purdue Electric Vehicle Club team will participate in the intercollegiate evGrandPrix on Saturday (May 12) during opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Here, driver Jimmy Simpson is on his way to a first-place finish at the Purdue evGrand Prix on April 29. Simpson will start from the pole on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Loudenslager)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Tony "Danger" Coiro is aiming to take the checkered flag at the electric vehicle grand prix that kicks off a month of racing on Saturday's (May 12) opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Coiro's pole-sitting evGrandPrix kart, driven by Jimmy Simpson, is joined by an international field of open-wheel race carts convening on the Indianapolis proving grounds to show off the advances made by a new generation of engineers trained specifically to design and build viable alternatives to gas vehicles. The race and curriculum that train the student engineers are products of the Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium headquartered at Purdue University.
Coiro, a graduating physics major from South Bend, Ind., had no intention of entering the race he helped create in 2010. On a whim, barely a week prior to this year's preliminary race, the EV Club he co-founded began building its cart. Instead of walking in his own graduation ceremony, Coiro will be running a cart in the cathedral of auto racing.
EV Club co-founder Drew Westrick, from Fort Wayne, Ind., said Coiro quickly sees and seizes opportunity.
"Tony called me at 11 p.m. on a Sunday with his idea for an EV Club and asked if I could have a website up by Tuesday," Westrick said. " ‘Geez, Tony, it's Sunday ... think I could have until say Wednesday?' He grudgingly acquiesced."
Purdue Electric Vehicle Club members from left Sean Kleinschmidt, Grant Chapman, Tony Coiro and Drew Westrick monitor the progress of their first-place kart at the Purdue evGrand Prix held on April 29. The team will compete Saturday (May 12) in the intercollegiate evGrand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo by Chris Loudenslager)
The EV Club kart went so fast that after the race, competitors complained the club must be cheating. The kart led the race almost flag-to-flag. It accelerated faster than gas equivalents, and its final competitive lap time was on par with the with fastest fossil-fuel foulers to take the track earlier last month. evGrandPrix carts are whisper quiet with zero emissions. After a several-day quarantine for inspection, the kart emerged with a clean bill to race at IMS.
Coiro and his club mates have gained international notoriety for several of their vehicles. As a sophomore Coiro built a solar-powered motorcycle. He and teammate Sean Kleinschmidt have built a series of blistering-fast electric motorcycles. Kleinschmidt and club co-founder Jim Danielson, both from Arlington Heights, Ill., electrified a Porsche the summer before their freshman year. Danielson has been whisked away to Silicon Valley by a dot com billionaire to perfect the novel motor components the teens created in their suburban Chicago garage. Coiro helped design an electric bicycle that will serve millions of American commuters, which can also generate electricity for millions of developing world homes off of the electric grid.
"I have been been very fortunate to encounter and work with mentors and colleagues who buy into the same exciting vision that we can improve the world through cleaner, more intelligent and efficient use of energy," Coiro said.
Indy Power Systems tapped Coiro, Westrick and fellow club member Grant Chapman, from Zionsville, Ind., to develop a patent-pending process to harness banks of depleted lead-acid truck batteries to power entire factories. The technology, already deployed in a Cincinnati factory, cuts energy bills by 50 percent and sets up green industrialists to harness solar and wind energy to move completely off of the grid. Coiro will tour South Africa this summer scouting opportunities to deploy the green technology there.
Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Journalists: Broadcast-quality B-Roll and sound bites of Tony Coiro and his vehicles are available for download and use at ftp://news69.uns.purdue.edu/Public/TonyCoiro/ . For more information, contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, 765-237-7296, email@example.com. Coiro also may be available in his Indianapolis laboratory by appointment.