May 13, 2019

High school and collegiate manned and autonomous kart teams racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

purdue-autonomous Purdue’s autonomous kart at a recent event. (Purdue University photo) Download image

WHAT: Purdue University Motorsports and the evGrand Prix group will host autonomous kart racing, as well as manned kart racing for high school and college teams from across the U.S. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The races will occur Tuesday (May 14) and Wednesday (May 15).

EXPERTS: Danny White is manager of Purdue Motorsports and managing director of the evGrand Prix. He has been with Purdue Motorsports since 2010. He has worked with numerous IndyCar teams in the past, including serving on the pit crew for Eddie Cheever when he won the 1998 Indianapolis 500. White holds numerous industry certifications and has developed several successful programs in motorsports, electric vehicle racing and safety management.

E.J. Williams, EV expert and support staff for evGrand Prix, was recruited by Mark Cuban to design and build a premium two-wheeled hoverboard as part of his new company, Radical Transport.  Along with one other mechanical engineer, Williams engineered the light-EV hoverboard, utilizing new technologies and control algorithms. Williams has also worked at Tesla Motors developing EV powertrain controls, as well as at Allison Transmission in its hybrid systems department.

QUOTES: “The objectives of this Purdue-hosted series are simple – train students for the technologies of their future, change the public’s perceptions and fears of  autonomous transportation, reduce automobile deaths and serious injuries as well as reduce emissions, and make significant improvements in efficiencies in public and private transportation,” White said.

“The new field of electric racing is neat because we're back to the drawing board with innovating and testing new powertrains. However, when it comes to autonomous, everything changes. You're no longer engineering a powertrain; you're engineering an actual driver. The sensors, computer and software that teams must develop take the role of the driver, which means you have to get it right in order to even navigate the track. Without the right sensors and experienced algorithms to interpret the data and control of the kart, it would be like sticking a driver in a race car and blindfolding him. You have to give your kart the ability to ‘see’ and you have to give it experience,” Williams said.


  • High schools from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Texas participate in the evGrand Prix program by using a specially developed curriculum, which also can count toward class and graduation credits. In Indiana, the state’s department of education has approved the program.
  • Support for The Student Karting World Finals presented by Hoosier Racing Tire comes from a variety of businesses and organizations, including Top Kart USA, Velodyne, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indiana Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy, Interstate Battery, General Motors Foundation, Jiffy Lube MultiCare and Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center.
  • This is one of many events celebrating Purdue’s Sesquicentennial, 150 Years of Giant Leaps. This yearlong celebration is highlighting Purdue’s remarkable history of giant leaps, while focusing on what giant leaps Purdue can take to address the world’s problems. One of the four themes is “Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms and Automation: Balancing Humanity and Technology.”

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-496-2571,; @mo_oates

Sources: Evan “EJ” Williams Jr., 317-417-4007,, @evgranprix

Danny White,


Note to journalists: B-roll footage of autonomous and manned kart races/practices are available via dropbox at

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