No signs of slowing down: GreenPower racing continues to grow in Troup County

Published 12:42 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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GreenPower racing continues to expand across the country, but that is not all, it continues to expand right here in Troup County. The various elementary, middle and high school teams in Troup County took part in record-breaking national championship races at Talladega last weekend. In a lot of ways, the Troup County teams were at the center of it.

“It’s what we’ve been working towards, for seven years now, to expand the energy and the excitement that Long Cane Green Power has had and spread that around,” said Matthew Graham, Long Cane’s head coach and the Troup County Greenpower coordinator. “I knew it would appeal to everybody, you just had to find and get the students involved.

“We now have 41 cars in Troup County, and we are approaching how many cars they have in Huntsville.”

Long Cane was chasing its sixth straight national championship but came up disappointingly short. This was far from doom and gloom for the Cougars as the seventh-grade team finished second in the standings and the eighth-grade team placed third. It shows just how much more competitive the GreenPower events have gotten since its inception 10 years ago.

“It would have been our sixth consecutive, so we barely missed it,” Graham said. “And the competition has gotten stronger, so we came up short.”

There are few greater barometers for the success of GreenPower around the country than the National Championship races at Talladega. Over 100 teams from across the country descended on Talladega, Alabama for a unique experience. This represented the biggest race that GreenPower USA has ever hosted.

It truly is a unique and awe-inspiring experience for the teams. How often do kids get to put the pedal to the metal and drive around one of the most famous race tracks in the United States?

“This experience of a national championship there is something that nobody in America gets to do. It’s really special. So to be able to have those elementary teams come and get to watch some of the middle and high school events and just get to be there to compete, even if they’re not on the oval, it’s a lifetime experience memory that the students will never forget,” Graham said.

It was a successful day for just about every team from Troup County, but none shined quite as bright as the Troup High Flying Tigers. Led by first-year coach Devon Lassetter, the team was able to build on the progress the last few years to break through and win the team’s first national championship.

“Not only did they win the national championship, but they also competed in 11 events this year which is a GreenPower record,” Graham said. “To set that record with a first-year head coach is amazing.”

There are members of the Troup team who only know what it is like to win. Some of the ninth graders on the Troup team have now won four national championships in a row, three with Long Cane and now one with Troup High.

“They are just ninth graders and already have four national championships which is super fulfilling to see,” Graham said.

While Troup was building to this moment for the last several years, other teams were enjoying their first season on the track. One of those programs was LaGrange High. The Grangers went from slowly and methodically building their car to finishing fourth place at the National Championship at the end of their first season.

“It’s really exciting to see because it just reinforces for me that this program is awesome for students, and all you have to do is give them an opportunity to showcase what they’re capable of,” Graham said.

LaGrange High is not the only school that has seen its GreenPower program grow leaps and bounds this year. Callaway Middle is making waves in the GreenPower community for the first time.

“We get to celebrate great success with Callaway Middle finishing third nationally. They actually finished ahead of [Long Cane]. That’s an incredible accomplishment,” Graham said. “The success they have had this season is putting them on the map.”

For the first time ever, Talledega played host to a Goblin racing event for elementary school students. Unfortunately, only two teams from Troup County — Clearview and Hillcrest — made it to this weekend’s event because of an overlap with exams. Despite this, Troup County still had six teams finish in the top 32 in the standings.

“I don’t think you have any other school system in the United States that has six teams finishing in the national rankings like that. So there are a lot of reasons for Troup County to be proud. We were well represented between goblins and F 24 this year,” Graham said.

GreenPower has shown no signs of slowing down, especially here in Troup County. With Graham in charge and enthusiasm continuing to grow, the sky is the limit.