Bobby Mouzayck was showing me the system for cooling the Very Light Car’s passenger compartment. The Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize rules require maintaining a reasonable inside temperature, so a cooler of the race-car type has been designed. It consists of a $3 foam chest that’s wrapped in cloth of carbon fiber; a plastic tube passes out of a hole and conveys the cool air that comes off a chunk of ice. The ice box sits in the car’s nose. This, he said, is a conductive cooler. It’s in keeping with the Edison2 philosophy of keeping everything light and simple. And “inexpensive” could be added, but every time I look at one of the four Very Light Cars I find myself thinking, “Wow, there’s a half a million dollars!”
Mouzayck is another veteran mechanic from sports car teams. A native of the Atlanta area, he spent time in Colorado at 3R Racing before winding up in Lynchburg. Unlike the other Edison2 teammates, he lives here, too, staying in a loft apartment in the same 300,000-square-foot building where the shop is.
He reported there are a few bars to go out to at night, but complained, “This town is full of virgins.”
Indeed, of the five colleges in the city (pop. 73,000), Jerry Falwell A&M, a.k.a. Liberty University—“the world’s largest Christian University”—easily exceeds the others put together, boasting enrollment, according to one source, of 12,000 of the best-behaved young men and women in the South. The next largest four-year institution is Lynchburg College, formerly Virginia Christian College, with about 2500 students. When Oliver Kuttner drove me over to Brown Machine Works to see where many custom parts are made for the Very Light Car, he pointed out a Starbucks in a shopping plaza that he said is owned by Liberty. Because the students aren’t supposed to go to bars, this coffee shop is one of the busiest anywhere on Friday and Saturday night.
Mouzayck has a “No Virgins” circle-and-slash sign affixed to the wall outside his work area.
He gave me an entertaining tour of the car. The Thermaltake unit that serves as a windshield defroster was “skanked” off a computer.
“It’s cheap and cheerful,” he said.
The car’s wiring harness, with beautiful, delicate white strands, like angel hair pasta dipped in yogurt, weighs only 5 pounds and perfectly represents the ethic of lightness and simplicity that drives the project.
He told about a buddy who works in a Porsche garage and had to replace the wiring in a Cayenne SUV. Altogether, its heft bettered 300 pounds and had to be hauled into the repair bay on a cart.
That’s 40 percent the weight of the Very Light Car, fully assembled.