Two-Time World Champion Elaine Larsen Set To Drive Florida Tech Jet Dragster
By Adam Lowenstein, Florida Tech // January 7, 2016
International Hot Rod Association champion
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Jet dragster driver Elaine Larsen, who just completed a four-win 2015 season that earned her a second consecutive International Hot Rod Association world championship, will drive the Florida Institute of Technology jet dragster in 2016, the university and Larsen Motorsports.
“I am really excited to drive the Florida Tech jet dragster, not only because I expect to bring my championship abilities to this great team, but also because this will allow me the opportunity to showcase to the world all of the hard work and dedication of students and faculty at Florida Tech,” Larsen said.
Entering the second year of the affiliation between Florida Tech and Larsen Motorsports, the racing organization will formally open its Larsen Motorsports High Performance Vehicles Research & Development Center in February at the university’s research and development center in Palm Bay, not far from the main Melbourne campus.
“We are pleased with our Larsen Motorsports affiliation, and continue to grow the educational opportunities surrounding the relationship so that our students benefit,” said T. Dwayne McCay, Florida Tech executive vice president, chief operating officer and incoming president.
“Elaine Larsen is an excellent ambassador for STEM education, and that is the core of what we do.”
The 30,000-square-foot Larsen facility, featuring full-concept design, engineering and fabrication capabilities and room for up to nine race teams, will continue to enhance the unique and powerful educational impact of the Florida Tech-Larsen Motorsports relationship.
“I am excited to work at the shop and on the track with Florida Tech students,” Larsen said.
Paige Sanchez will be at both of those places. Larsen’s crew chief during last year’s championship run, Sanchez is earning her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Florida Tech even as she seeks to help sustain her driver’s championship run.
“Whether developing a computer model, fine-tuning our General Electric J-85 turbo jet engines or getting dirty with some routine maintenance, the hands-on experiences I get at Larsen touch on multiple STEM disciplines and really enhance my classroom education,” Sanchez said.
On any given day at the R&D Center, there could be as many as 15 Florida Tech students involved, ranging from aerospace, mechanical and electrical engineering majors to those studying communications, marketing, and human factors.
“We have laid out our facility to enable us to provide student and internship opportunities that center on the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Chris Larsen, Larsen Motorsports CEO and co-founder with Elaine Larsen, his wife.
If the coming year is anything like 2015, it promises to be a busy one for the students, the Larsens and all of Larsen Motorsports.
Last year, the team traveled the country – and into Canada – for a dozen races, while making numerous appearances with the 5,500-horsepower Florida Tech jet dragster, from the Melbourne Air Show to campus events including Discovery Day and homecoming.
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