EAST COUNTY — The night before Aly Cote, of Lakewood Ranch, and her team left for Texas was many things, but calm wasn’t an adjective that described their final day of preparation.
“You stand there!” “Come in after me.” “Go in this order!” echoed off the walls of the meeting room, a Bradenton residence-turned-office lent to the group by a friend, where five Manatee County students have spent much of their time over the last five months.
Cote is team captain of the Allegiance Race Team, which left Nov. 8 to compete for the F1 in Schools world title in Austin, Texas.
The group, formerly known as Phoenix Racing, won the national title earlier this year and will represent the United States, along with teams who placed second and third, at the national level.
The four members of the Phoenix team — Cote, of Lakewood Ranch High, and Merritt Kendzior, Joe Komor and Sheel Patel, from Southeast High — decided they wanted one more person on their squad. They later added 16-year-old Sean Martin, who they thought would have the know-how to help transform their project.
Hoping to separate themselves from the 36 other teams from all over the globe, the crew decided to rename their team Allegiance.
“We just thought it would better help us represent our country and stand out,” Kendzior said. “I mean, we pledge allegiance to our flag — the American flag; we want to show them who we are and what we’re about.”
The largest Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) competition in the world, F1— or Formula One — in Schools introduces students ages 9 to 19 to the world of race car design and technology.
The youth learned to use programs such as InDesign and Adobe Photoshop, along with a variety of others, to bring their drawings to life by way of 3-D animation and proper planning.
“They have probably spent about 1,000 collaborative hours working on this car,” team adviser Margi Nanney said. “They gave up a large portion of their free time, and their summer break. They have basically lived here (at their work space) together these past months.”
Cote and her team divvied up roles to make the project more manageable, from graphic designers to engineers. Kendzior, 15, served as the resource manager and put her efforts toward obtaining donations and funding the project — an effort that pulled in about $20,000 from the three largest sponsors.
The evening of Nov. 7, the Southeast and Lakewood Ranch High School students may not have agreed on the order in which they lined up on stage, but they knew one thing: They wanted to win.
With their day starting at 3 a.m. on Friday, the group still had an oral presentation and binders full of proof of the work to put together.
One-by-one, they took turns introducing themselves to a mock judge, Nanney, and read lines off scripts, which also needed to be memorized.
Cote raved about the group’s wheels, designed by Kendzior, that can spin for up to a minute-and-a-half. Kendzior, a high school freshman, oversaw the design and manufacturing process of the wheels. She takes credit for everything to do with the spinning rubber, except for the bearings, she said.
The fast five will be judged on criteria such as car designs, techniques and timed trials. They will return Friday, Nov. 15, perhaps with a world title, but assuredly with new skills they learned throughout the car building process, in their back pockets.
“I’ll put these kids against any in the world for aerodynamics,” Nanney said. “You can tell I kind of love it.”
BY THE NUMBERS
3 — Cars that will be judged at the world finals.
5 — Members of Allegiance Race Team.
23 — Countries represented at the finals.
37 — Teams competing in Texas.
40 — Countries using F1 in Schools.
20 million — Students utilizing the program.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].