RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip


Sandpoint, Idaho—

Steve Van Ronk
Clockwise from upper left, Rick Quinn completes a race in San Francisco, Steve Van Ronk with one of his racers, the Coopersville High School Electrathon Team in Michigan, a streamliner built by Dave Cloud, and Sam Barlow High School's vehicle in Oregon

The first electric vehicle hit the road in Scotland in 1834, but it wasn't until 1990 that the sport of Electrathon was introduced to America. Steve Van Ronk of Sandpoint, Idaho, was one of the people responsible for bringing this increasingly popular form of vehicle competition to the United States.

While speed is an important component of Electrathon competition, design, efficiency, engineering and driving skill are all vital, too. The sport draws participants of every age and both sexes. Pictured above is Coopersville High School's car and team in Coopersville, Michigan, and the car in the lower left hand corner belongs to Sam Barlow High School in Oregon. The lower right hand corner shows Dave Cloud's world record holder in the F/E class, and in the upper left, Rick Quinn is driving a F/Ex class car. Steve, center, is shown in one of his three-wheel F/Ex designs.

Through his company, Global Light and Power, Steve offers kits, components and workshops to individuals, groups and schools interested in becoming involved in electric vehicle design, construction and Electrathon competition. He's in constant demand as a speaker and trainer all over North America as interest grows in electronic transportation. We spoke with him as he was preparing for a trip to Mexico, where he is involved in the manufacture of electric cars and trucks.

"Designing and building an electric car is a perfect project for high schools," says Steve. "The process involves math and science, and Electrathon is a great sport."

July 23, 1996