As the third day started, we once again woke up early to set up the panels for charging. Our judge Neiman Walker was a semi-familiar face, as he was from the charitable Liberty Christian School, without whom we would not have finished last year’s race. They are currently racing in an international competition in Australia. With some fumbling for batteries and water, we finished our final preparations.

Luck would have it that it would rain for the first time in forever, which served to cool us down in the present and increase the humidity afterwards. As a result, the race started an hour late, costing everyone several laps worth of time. In the end, Soham drove onto the Speedway to start off our groggy morning session.

The car, next to the garage, ready to roll out onto the track

Due to the lack of sun, most of the cars were reduced to a sluggish crawl, hellish school zone levels of monotony. But not Soham. Maintaining a decent speed, Devon pulled into first for the majority of the morning, passing everyone over and over. At one point, the first place team was four laps behind Sol Tide. As laps were tallied, we rejoiced at slowly closing the gap between 1st and 2nd place. Unfortunately, Byron Nelson suddenly changed pace, almost tripling their speed and regaining lost laps. Struggling onwards, we were able to maintain a good amount of laps for the session.

Relaxing for two hours to charge and meditate on the existence of pizza as a sandwich, we prepared for the second half of the day. By now, the clouds had dispersed, leaving the sun free to charge our panels and fry all the small children visiting the trash. Yum! Then team was once more split as Devon was mandated to offer up two tributes to serve the water station. We decided to cycle our members, so Alex Carandang and Evan Hennessy were selected first, and one member switched out per half hour. In the road, however, there were other issues.

The captains receiving the day trophy from Dr. Marks

Byron Nelson dropped all pretenses of being slow and booked it, easily outstripping us and lapping us several times. They slowly gained an appreciable lead. However, we held on, going at a constant pace. As the afternoon wore on, several cars were stopped, creating a traffic jam where no one was allowed to pass one another. This car chain, at its peak, was almost ten cars long, all moving 5 mph. As a result, the race was slowed down. However, we plodded on stubbornly, slowly shrinking the distance between Bryon and us. Byron eventually slowed down as we slowly sped up, ending with Byron getting stuck behind a massive traffic jam due to a stopped car on the straightaway and Devon avoiding it almost entirely.

The fight for laps came to a head on the final lap, as both teams had only enough time to finish one lap. In a stunningly harsh move, they took advantage of the no-passing rule on the front straightaway by slowing down to a crawl in a bid to run out our time. With only four minutes left, we had to finish the lap as quickly as possible. Everyone waited with baited breaths as Soham got on the third turn with a minute left. Suddenly, Byron Nelson pulled in, obscuring our view of Sol Tide. Mary Ann didn’t fail us though, as Soham finished with 10 seconds left to go. Now all left to us is to await tomorrows result.*

*The official results have Devon Prep finishing first for the day with 45 laps and Byron finishing second with 43. (This is the first time Devon Prep has won a Race Day in the past five years competing in the Challenge.)

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