Day 4: From Chaperone Paul Batig’s Perspective

Featured, General, Outreach, Texas / Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

This is a blog segment written by chaperones and their perspective on the race! Paul Batig is a parent of team member Emily Batig [10], who was our go-to person for food and snacks, cold towels, and slurpees in the hot Texas sun.

“My day 4 began, with a phone call, while shopping for team lunch supplies at Wal-Mart early that morning.  “Our team’s primary competitor is out of the race.”  I remember thinking simultaneously A) relief that the race day would be somewhat less intense, B) sadness that day 4 wouldn’t see both teams driving each other to even higher levels of achievement after an amazing 186 laps on day 3, and C) keep moving because team lunches weren’t going to make themselves and the team had requested pre-race Starbucks delivery.  After 8 days of flu tests, rain delays, printer runs, lunches in the pit, working dinners in the garage, lap penalties, intense racing, ER trips, and heat management, one thing I’d definitely advise future chaperones is expect full and unpredictable days!

Although the iconic Buc-ee’s slurpees were not featured, Chick-fil-A was one of our favorite meals at the track.

Later on day 4, once the lunches were made, delivered, and all was well trackside, my thoughts wandered more towards thankfulness.  I was thankful for the dedicated mentor and family who freely gave immense amounts of time and a dedicated space at their home to produce this amazing vehicle, despite the obstacles and risks presented by COVID-19.  I was also thankful for the parent volunteers, team sponsors, and RAHS staff, who supported the team through thick and thin, with their time, facilities, various talents, organizational skills, finances, enthusiasm, and endless encouragement to soar.  I was also thankful to the Solar Car challenge organizers for giving our students an incredible opportunity to challenge themselves while developing mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, project management, presentation, and team leadership skills, just to name a few.  The team and the parent group certainly didn’t always agree with all the decisions the race organizers made, (and learned a ton about “official timing” and what will become “the Raisbeck Rule” 😊 along the way).  I do think by the end though, we were all thankful for the judges, and race officials who create this safe and wonderful forum, for STEM focused students to challenge themselves in one of the most jaw-dropping and inspiring racing venues possible, the Texas Motor Speedway.  

Finally, as we wrapped up the evening at the awards banquet, with multiple smiles, pictures, trophies, and friendly goodbyes to other teams and officials, I remember feeling thankful for our amazing team.  They broke things, and then fixed them.  They forgot critical things, and then wrote them down so they wouldn’t forget again.  They arrived before the sun rose, and left after it set every day.  They micromanaged variables so that the main battery finally reached empty with 45 seconds of track time remaining (in Archery, this would be like hitting the X within the 10 point ring).  They didn’t always agree or know what to do next, but they never gave up when there were a thousand reasons they could have.  They picked each other up, when someone needed their spirits lifted.  They are always striving in their own unique ways for MORE, FASTER, BETTER.  Some will be dearly missed as they pursue new adventures at the Air Force Academy, MIT, and USC, amongst other places, and hopefully the others will be back to try to figure how to excel in a totally new arena, a cross-country race, next year.  I’m just thankful to have spent time in this amazing solar car family, thankful that they welcomed my daughter to a place where everyone’s voice counts, everyone’s best ideas merge, excellence is the goal, and what unites us matters so much more than our differences.  Having a front row seat for the entire event, I leave feeling a lot better about our collective future, knowing this is the generation that gets to lead next.”

It wasn’t just the team who dealt with the unbearable heat! Paul Batig [Chaperone] sits in the pits to support the team how he could!

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