An inspiring true story of long odds and underdogs

When 26-year-old, Birkenstock-wearing Berkeley graduate Eric Ryan is sent by Teach for America to rural Northampton County in northeast North Carolina, he expects he’s in for two years of teaching science in one of the state’s poorest counties. What he doesn’t anticipate is a life-changing adventure that begins the morning that Harold Miller, the auto shop teacher, sticks his head into Ryan’s classroom one morning and announces, “Hey Mr. Ryan, we’re gonna build an electric car.”

Several utilities have challenged a selection of elite high schools throughout the South to design and build battery-powered electric vehicles for a competition that will culminate in a head-to-head contest on the NASCAR track at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia. When unlikely contender Northampton-East High School manages to squeeze itself in among the schools to compete in the EV Grand Prix,plenty of people worry it’s just another opportunity for Northampton County to come last. But with a motley assortment of students, a dedicated supporting cast of teachers, families, and community volunteers, and the ingenuity that comes of making do with what you’ve got, the team sets out to prove what Mr. Miller believes: “Ain’t no point in showing up if you ain’t gonna do something.”

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