Late first post of the new year

What’s this? Hmm looks like an old scrap of paper, “ Remember to update the site at least once every..”… oops, well better late than never.

Wow, a lot has happened since my last update, but first there are a few people without whom our project would have fallen into obscurity and so I’d like to first thank everyone who has kept up with our progress and all the kind words of support. I would especially like to say thank you to the people who have made donations, it takes a leap of faith to put not only your belief, but your hard earned dollars behind someone you don’t know; so go to our sponsors page and give these folks the credit they deserve for not only believing in but supporting a brighter future.

As it is in war: all give some, some give all, it has been with building 7. It takes everyone working together to win battles no matter the type, and we’ve needed everyone who has helped to get us this far, but now I’d like to thank those who have given all for this project. they have given their evenings and weekends, countless vacation days and have accomplished tasks that they would not have thought possible and they’ve done it for nothing other than the chance to make things a little better for everyone.

Team IMW
Team IMW with Hyundai
Kevin Smith, George Kennedy, Josh Spradlin, Thomas Pasko, Nate Knappenburger

Josh Spradlin, Graphic Designer, and Thomas Pasko, Master Automotive Technician, are the two surviving teammates who started out this whole shindig with me. They’ve managed to put up with my panic attacks, hair-brain ideas, rants, raves, tangents, and lots more over the past…well almost 2 years now, and have stuck with it. That’s the sign of true friendship, standing, not by but with your friends no matter the consequences to self…honestly it’s also a sign of insanity, but it’s a good kind of insane.

Josh and I have been working on projects out in the every growing ‘work shop’ affectionately nick-named ‘Tangent Works’ for several years now. It started, as most things do, very innocuously, with customizing a motorcycle, the one I had to sell to help finance this project, and led to projects ranging from repairing/refinishing family heirlooms to painting a mural and digging ditches for underground power lines, Saturdays were never boring…of course then as now fueled with lots of pizzas and Little Debbie snack cakes (that would have been a great product placement if only we can convince Little Debbie to be a sponsor ;)) . When I asked Josh if he’d work on this project with me, he said…more or less…”whatever man, I’m out there every Saturday either way”. However now he says, “Wow, it’s been a wild ride.” Guess he never expected to host a Makers Fair or be in a feature article in WIRED magazine…not to mention VPRO TV, that’s PBS in the Netherlands, or to work with Hyundai to modify some of their brand new cars….and for the record, yes, it is nerve wracking to cut into a brand new car, but once you realize it’s not yours and Kevin was the one to sign off on it…Hey, have at it. Not only is Josh good at deciphering my spelling, he can also take my sometimes vague, always overly wordy and technical, descriptions of things we need and translate it into a successful internet search that comes up with the parts that never come up when I type them into the search…maybe it has something to do with that spelling thing.

Thomas, the man whose entire life is a project, from running his automotive repair shop to being husband to his wife Karen and dad to three teenagers; Isaiah, Rachel and Daniel, to playing trumpet in the local symphony, not to mention working on 7, his days are to say the least, full. I couldn’t think of a better friend, or one with more experience on projects, that I’d want to have working with me on this project, after all practice makes perfect, so Thomas must be a Master at project organization by now and if an empty desk is a reflection of its owner;s mind then the same must hold true for ones workshop, and if you could see Thomas’ work shop you’d know that his mind is jam packed…with an organization all its own. Auto tech extraordinaire, (with the paper to prove it) and the patience (well with me at least) of a saint, and the belly of a god (Budda), Thomas is my automotive equivalent to a lifeline, that luckily I get to call more than once.

George Kennedy, Engineer, and Nathan Knappenburger, Electronics Technician, without which we wouldn’t have gotten this far….I seem to be saying that a lot lately, tis true tis true.

George first stopped by my cube (at my day job) and handed me $20 bucks and said, “Well, gotta put your money where your mouth is and I said people should be supporting this project. ” The week after that it was another $20. The week after that he showed up on Saturday morning with a new laptop loaded up with CAD software and said, “my wife said I should have a hobby and I figured I could re-learn CAD to help you out. Oh, and here’s $50 bucks”. Since being pulled into the black hole known as ‘Tangent Works’ George has not been seen by the outside world…except at the St. Pat’s day festival in Springfield. This message goes out to George’s wife: “George is doing fine and hopes to be home in time for Christmas.”

Nathan actually hunted us down after seeing an article in the local paper, saying, ”hey, I know some of these guys.” The hunter quickly became the hunted. Now after many long sessions of brain storming, internet searches, correcting each other’s equations, assumptions and multiplication, (and discovering that there’s a whole lot of unobtainium out there) we’re ready to move forward with the perfect AC drive system and have limited our choices of batteries to a mere 786 different possible types and configurations. Depending on when this actually gets posted/read, congratulations are in order; Nate and his girlfriend Jamie are getting/got married on April 4th. Congratulations! Remember Jamie, when you get sick of Nate hanging around the house and pestering you, just send him over and we’ll keep him busy.

And last, but definitely not least, someone I have known since I was 9 years old…and been in love with since I was 10, my wife, Jen, without her support this project would have never gotten off the ground, thank you, Honey. Not only is she the greatest must supportive wife in the world, she’s also our web master…and the kick to my ass to get this blog done ;). An automotive enthusiast herself she’s spent many late nights with me working out the finer details of running (boot to the pants) the project and helping out with numerous computer problems and editing my ramblings [editor’s note: I can only do so much to fix Kevin’s ramblings].


Along with the updates and changes to the team, we’ve also updated and changed our approach a bit to the build. We’ve decided to go with an AC drive system instead of the DC system of our original design. AC offers many advantages in the area of overall efficiency, and energy recovery. We’ve also decided to increase the size of our battery pack to enable increased performance and add to the fun of the drive (that should be interperated as smoke your wheels off, fun).

While using our proprietary composite for many applications on our race vehicle, we’re also, as can be seen from the pictures, not compromising safety at the expense of a little weight and utilizing a full steel space frame instead of just a pan until such time that we are able to fully test the properties of our material for safety in crash testing.

Just in case you didn’t notice the Hyundai Ecomoding banner in the background, Hyundai is now a Co-Sponsor of Illuminati Motor Works and our quest for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. Check out our sponsors page often for updates about our work with Hyundai and some links to the other great environmental undertakings by Hyundai, like the Genesis project.

Or maybe just check it to see your name proudly added to our line-up. Where will you be, Dilithium crystals or Warp Drive? Want your name or the name of your company on the side of our vehicle come race day? Then send us an email with your proposal or questions to find out how we can work together to make this happen.

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