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Iron Lions gear up for solar car competition

behind the wheel   nolan


The summer sun is beating down on North Texas just in time for this year’s solar car competition, and the Greenville High School Iron Lions are ready.


The four-time national champs never rest on their laurels. Instead, they are constantly asking themselves how they can get better and how they can make improvements to their two solar cars – Regulus and Iron Lion IV.


“It’s all about iteration,” Iron Lions Captain Logan Wood says. “This year, we made Regulus more aerodynamic by wrapping it inside and all along the bottom. We added ducts to each side to make it a less resistant path.”


Logan and fellow captain Noah Buchanan say that every year, there are new problems to solve and new challenges to overcome, and that’s where the creativity comes in.


“You can never anticipate everything that you’ll come up against,”  Noah says. “It’s about taking a step back and thinking on your feet. That’s what our teachers are always telling us – this is yours to build, design and drive. And when we go through the scrutineering process with the judges, we have to show them and explain everything on our own. It’s taught us to be independent and work well as a team. It has also taught us the importance of preparation.”


The engineering challenges, teamwork and problem-solving processes are similar to those used by the GHS Robotics champions. But there’s one huge difference.


“This is a one-shot deal,” GHS Engineering and Electrical Technology Instructor Joel Pitts says. “We only get to do this once a year. It’s like a NASA shuttle launch. We are always thinking, ‘What are the contingencies? How can we get better?' ”


Pitts started the solar car program in 2012, and he, Automotive Technology Instructor George Kroncke and Culinary Arts Instructor Lucas Kiowski form a formidable coaching team.


“They are literally the best teachers in the world,” Logan says. “There is no way we’d be where we are without them.”


“They each have niche,” Noah says.


“Chef (Kiowski) is insanely smart with planning, math, strategy, and logistics,” Logan says. “Every night, we have a strategy meeting to break down what happened that day and be ready for the next day.”


“Pitts – he’s the one that’s always with us, by our side,” he says. “He is the Godfather of … everything. He knows everything there is to know about the engineering.”


And Kroncke?


“He is a mechanical guru. He pays attention to every detail – he’s taught us to align the tires perfectly, which is really important in racing,” Logan says.


Great teachers prepare great students to work independently and solve the problems on their own.


And when the competition runs July 11-18 at the Texas Motor Speedway, an entire year of preparation will hit the road.


Follow the journey on the Iron Lions Facebook page!


A special thanks to our generous sponsors:


  • L3 Harris Technologies
  • Farmers Elective Cooperative
  • Car Quest
  • Henley Auto Supply
  • Huntex Properties
  • The Shop Designs
  • White Eagle Water Systems
  • White Hawk Machine & Tool