EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — They call it “The Barn” – home to the Mater Dei Supermileage Team, group of hard-working students working with wrenches, drills and other tools, working on what they call a supermileage car.
“We got 792 miles per gallon,” Grant Weiss, a rising senior at Mater Dei, said.
While this car is meant to run on and on, for team advisot Dan Ritter, his ride is coming to an end.
“I’m retiring after this year, yes,” he said. “Ready to give my wife some time back again. That’s probably the biggest driver.
Ritter has been a team advisor to the Mater Dei Supermileage Team for 10 years, teaching and training the generations of high school students, including his own three children, eager to get their hands dirty with engine grease.
“Some of these kids come in, they don’t know how to tighten a nute, so you have to team them which way to turn it,” he said.
When Ritter joined the team, he opened up his pole barn, turning into a workshop, and for many of the students, a second home.
“We’re over here every night trying to get ready,” David Weiss, one of the team advisors, said. “We did take off the week of finals, give the kids a break.”
“It’s definitely cramped sometimes and we get in the way of other people, but I mean it’s a place to be, we get a lot of work done here and it’s our home,” Grant, David’s son, said.
For Ritter, he’ll have a chance to go out on top with a trip to London for the Shell Eco-Marathon World Competition, a chance to pit his team’s supermileage car against the world’s best.
“The challenge is going to be who can get to the finish line first, but you have to get to the finish line,” Ritter said. “If you run out of fuel before you get to the finish line, you don’t win.”
With Ritter leaving, it’s time for the team to find a new home, but he said The Barn won’t be closing forever.
“I’ve got a lot of storage,” he said. “We can store stuff here for a while. It’s not an issue.”
The world competition may be last hurrah, but regardless of how his team finishes, he’ll always look back fondly on his ride of a lifetime.
The world competition will be held July 3 in London.