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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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On a roll: Electric car enthusiasts hit the road for annual rally

Published 7:49 am, Monday, May 5, 2014

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  • At the finish line mileage of Sunday's 2nd annual EV Road Rally odometers were checked to see which drivers came closest to completing the rally at the designated distance of 38.5 miles. The event was sponsored by the Westport Electric Car Club. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News
    At the finish line mileage of Sunday's 2nd annual EV Road Rally odometers were checked to see which drivers came closest to completing the rally at the designated distance of 38.5 miles. The event was sponsored by the Westport Electric Car Club. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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The atmosphere for Sunday's annual EV Road Rally was truly electric.

For the second year in a row, the Westport Electric Car Club hosted a sort-of scavenger hunt solely for electric vehicles. The 28 participants who raced along a route that started -- and finished -- at the Saugatuck train station and continued through Norwalk, Westport and Wilton, had a gorgeous spring day to share their passion for electric vehicles.

"This is a great rally," said Ward Jennings of Easton, one of the rally drivers. "It's just a really fun event that raises awareness of the advantages of electric vehicles."

Jennings, who runs W. Jennings Co. auto repair shop in Southport, said EVs not only are more energy efficient, but quieter and much cheaper to operate. "Those are the major three" advantages, he said.

"The running costs are just so low compared to a gas car," said Gabe Shenhar of Westport, "and it doesn't matter if it's a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla S."

Rally participants tackled a 38.5-mile journey that required them to follow signs and hunt for clues regarding the route to take. "We gave them route information and told them to zero their odometers," said John Shuck, one of the rally masters who checked drivers' odometers upon their return, seeing who got closest to the designated tally.

"They have to see signs, see names on signs, colors of signs," he said. One of the clues, for instance, asked drivers to find the registration number for a boat near Compo Beach.

Roughly at the halfway point, he said, cars were directed to visit the Wilton Library and visit its "green" celebration.

The only requirement to participate, Shuck said, was that vehicles had "to be a completely pure electric car. It can't be a hybrid."

"It was so much fun," said Ive Covaci of Westport, who drove the whole family in the rally. "We saw places around here we didn't know existed."

"This rally is our premier thing," said Leo Cirino, president of the Westport Electric Car Club, who was pleased both by the number of rally participants as well as the related sponsors who helped make the event possible.

"I was getting calls all night," he said, from people who wanted to be involved at the last minute. "There's just a wave of enthusiasm with electric cars. This thing has mushroomed."

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, among the people who visited the event, said, "Everybody seems really into this," he said. "I can only imagine what it's going to be like next year."

Steinberg said that, along with growing awareness for sustainable options, technology of electric vehicles continues to advance.

"It never really ends in terms of the imagination and the creativity we can apply," he said.