Anatomy of a crash, profile of a mechanic

Whenever there was a technical glitch with Queen’s brand new three-wheeled super-sleek sunshine cruiser during the American Solar Challenge (ASC), Dave Valletta, Sci ‘02, would be all over the problem.

But when Mirage crashed unexpectedly on the first day of racing, Valletta, the solar car team’s mechanical systems manager, had to be on top of it and underneath it too.

The fourth-year mechanical engineering student was instrumental in getting the Queen’s car back on the road, but Valletta was the first to admit that it was in no way a solo job.

“It was an amazing team effort,” he said of the team’s recovery from the crash that, though it hurt the team significantly in the standings, was still a morale-boosting team-wide catalyst.

Stuck in 14th place on July 16, the team rallied over the next nine racing days and managed a surprising fourth place finish, right behind Waterloo.

Shocklingly, an analysis of the underpinnings of the car after the crash revealed numerous unforeseen mechanical and electrical failures.

“There were like twenty things wrong with the car we didn’t know about,” Valletta said.

The team had to patch up the breakdowns temporarily, not having enough time to do a complete overhaul because of the time pressures of the race.

Now that the ASC is over, the solar car team will reconvene at their Kingston headquarters on August 7 to do a complete tuneup of Mirage in preparation for the World Solar Challenge taking place in Australia in November.

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