Friday, May 7, 2010

WIKISPEED Pics from Shakedown, part 1

Wednesday afternoon: The team scrambles to finish the car for the final tech inspection; as they worked, they were surrounded by press, competition officials, and co-competitors who expressed their amazement at the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of the build, a testament to Joe's lean/agile/scrum model.

Wednesday, 4:55 p.m.: The team proceeds toward final inspection. As they rolled the car out of the garage toward the inspection bay, the entire place erupted in applause, with co-competitors even helping push the car. Team WIKISPEED had captured everyone's hearts. Tweeted and retweeted throughout Wednesday and Thursday was the message @ZAPalias: Congratulates team @WIKISPEED for a heroic display of teamwork, makes us proud to be part of @progautoxp.

Wednesday evening: A few of our dedicated team members, exhausted but proud, mug for the camera after final inspection.
L-R, back: Tom Boulac, Bryan Ford, John Justice, Jeff Carter, Joe Justice, Keith Boulac
middle: Mary Wilkes, Lisa Ford, Tom Dunn
front: Ruth Justice Stafford, Ginney Justice

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Onward and Upward

Two years ago, Joe Justice started building a sports car in his garage. He'd developed engineering and production models that he knew were revolutionary, and he was itching to bring them to the market. Propelled by his vision of an ultralight, superfast, marketable sedan with mass appeal, he began pouring hours of his time into the build and created the WIKISPEED brand.

When he first learned of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, he understood immediately that participation would bring him closer to his production goals. Joe says, "Working with X PRIZE offered tremendous media exposure, allowed for networking with other entrepreneurs and innovators, promised gratis expert feedback from major industry experts, and trained my focus on some very visible goals, which I knew would attract interest from potential volunteers."

And so he submitted his application and was handily accepted as a competitor for the X PRIZE.

Before long, volunteers began partnering with Joe to develop and augment his ideas, and soon his garage began filling with the curious and the eager, their interest piqued by his novel ideas. By the time Joe brought his car to Shakedown at MIS, WIKISPEED had a team of committed volunteers---electrical engineers, ASE-certified mechanics, computer engineers, technical writers, attorneys---all who believed in the car and rallied behind Joe.

Today WIKISPEED's participation in the PIAXP has come to an end. This morning the team learned that they had failed the technical inspection; this afternoon they submitted a formal appeal; and this evening that appeal was denied. While WIKISPEED wishes it were still in active competition, they have far exceeded their original goals in X PRIZE participation. They outlasted over one hundred teams, including such formidable competitors as Tesla Motors and MIT.

"Our participation has propelled us forward, bringing us even closer to our goals. The incredible level of technical guidance and feedback we have received from automotive experts and the quality and depth of the relationships we've built in the industry have helped us make major strides toward production," says Joe. "WIKISPEED has been validated by the X PRIZE."

Joe and the team marvel at the incredible caliber of people working for the X PRIZE organization, running all sides of the operation. And the opportunity to work and confer with his co-competitors was a huge boost. "There was such good will," says Joe. As one of the other teams Tweeted, "Congratulat[ion]s, team WIKISPEED, for a heroic display of teamwork; makes us proud to be part of [PIAXP]."

WIKISPEED is already hard at work on the next iteration of the car, incorporating what they've learned from the X PRIZE. The team goal today is the same as Joe's two years ago---to revolutionize the family sedan, bringing his ultralight, superfast, affordable car into production; and they're in an even better position to do that today than ever before.

In the coming days we'll post the full story of what happened at the X PRIZE Shakedown from folks who were on the ground, in the bays, wrench in hand. So stay tuned.

We're focused, we're prepared, and we're moving full speed ahead.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Consumer Reports has been very thorough in their inspections and very helpful in their feedback. The whole team is running on next to no sleep, working 'round the clock to meet the deadline for the next inspection. Everyone has poured their hearts and all their bodily strength into this project. Truly the dedication of this team is amazing!

When I think that only a couple months ago Joe was the only one holding a wrench, I am in awe. He worked on this project, by himself, for eighteen months. One guy, one vision. It was not until that vision really began to take shape that the rest of us bought into it. But when we did buy in, it was with heart and soul!

Now we are down to the evaluations. It is easy to get caught up in the moment: Did the part get there in time? Did they  find a welder? Does the fix meet the standard? I have to remind myself that that is only the small picture. The big picture is what inspired me in the first place: 
I believe in producing an affordable, 100 mpg car. I am hanging onto my old car believing that my next car will be one of the first off my brother's production line. His busines plan is solid. His distribution ideas are novel. His design is revolutionary. Literally revolutionary.

By the time the car is available to the public, it will be shiny and sleek, just like they expect. When I close my eyes I can see it! I am in love with my WIKISPEED car. I love the 360-degree views, the responsive handling, the reclined drivers seat, the way the wheel fits my hands. I love the low profile, the acceleration, and feeling like I never have to fill her up! I have fallen in love with this car so deeply that I even want her in Home Depot orange, just like the iteration that is at the XPRIZE . . .

. . . At the XPRIZE. Right now tired bodies and hopeful hearts feel like they have put everything on the line. The truth is, this is just one step along the way.

Me? I can’t wait to take delivery of my beloved, orange, 100 mpg car.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finding more friends along the way

Don't you just love it when you are trying to fix something, you find the guy to help, and he blows you away!?! This keeps happening, everywhere we turn, with WIKISPEED.

Major props to the guys at Carefree Dock & Lift. Your welding and generosity astound us. Art, Kevin, Eric---we owe our success to people like you, experts at what they do who pitch in to make big thing happen! Many thanks.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

On the Road to Fun City!

I spoke on the phone with mom and Mary Mike earlier this afternoon, and they gave me a collective update on the goings ons.

Keith, mom, and Tom Boulac arrived in Brooklyn, Michigan, late Saturday night (or maybe it was early Sunday morning) with the SGT01 safely in tow, and the team flying in arrived around the same time. Joe basically passed out in his hotel room from exhaustion, but Bryan Ford and his wife, Lisa, hosted the rest of the team at their house for an all-hands-on-deck build.

Bryan and Lisa were just fabulous, and Bryan's cousin Craig (whose nickname, I believe, is Wiki---serendipity much?) also apparently has mad automotive skills, so they were pretty much unstoppable. Another mechanic we'd previously gotten in touch with, Jeff Carter, was so excited about the prospect of working with us that he drove down from Detroit to meet the team "just in case they needed him." So he ended up staying for the build, too, has been fully assimilated into the team, and is just basically an epic win all around in human form.

Apparently several issues that had been plaguing the SGT01 (and flummoxing the team) were resolved handily by the new team of automotive experts, so the car is in an amazing place to head into the rigorous Consumer Reports safety inspection. Plus, they had time to give the SGT01 a paint job---a color that mom calls Home Depot orange (someone get this woman a job naming pigments at Benjamin Moore!).

Heavy rains Sunday delayed registration 'til 6 in the evening, meaning the team had even more of an opportunity to fine-tune the car. Fabulous.

Meanwhile, mom busied herself at a local laundromat, washing "the formaldehyde out of the team t-shirts," because of course she did. Apparently the printer failed to send Keith's 3x shirt, so he's trying to stretch a 2x to fit his manly frame. All I can say is if anyone on Team WIKISPEED rocks a shorty shirt, I want it to be Keith.

So, as a true believer in Joe and Joe's vision, but also as someone with zero automotive/technical/engineering know-how, I am THRILLED that so many of you who *do* rock the skillz are being so generous with your time, energy, and money. i would hug each of you personally for the support you've shown my baby brother, but we haven't all been introduced, and it might come off as fresh/creepy/invasive. So instead of some bear hug from an overwrought, rambling, misty-eyed cat lady, please accept my fervent, heartfelt thanks. You guys are amazing.

Team, keep up the good work!

And, folks at Shakedown, a special appeal to all y'all to please keep updating us on all the good stuff as it occurs. You have scores of fans crossing their fingers nervously from remote locations. AND DON'T FORGET TO TAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF PICTURES AND VIDEO (especially video). We need this stuff.

WIKISPEED for the win!

Monday, April 26, 2010

It Takes a Village

I just got a call from my brother John telling me that the folks over at Eastside Saw & Sales have generously discounted a bunch of materials critical to sanding and shaping fiberglass---or what will be SGT01's body. Their store in Bellevue, Washington, isn't far from the garage where all of the work has been going down pretty much nonstop for weeks now. We load up the trailer on Wednesday to head to Michigan for Shakedown, and all hands are on deck. So Eastside Saw's help couldn't have come at a better time. A special shout-out to Curtiss, who put in a lot of time fielding questions in order to help us figure out exactly what we needed.

Go check them out at

Thank you, Eastside Saw!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

I have spent the last few days babysitting my nieces, while work on the WikiSpeed car continues day and night at the shop. The girls and I have watched Dora the Explorer, had princess parties in the backyard, and pretended we were fish swimming in the ocean. One of my favorite things has been playing a board game called Blokus. It involves fitting Tetris-shaped pieces together in puzzle fashion until you have used all your pieces. Who ever uses the most pieces and is not blocked by another player wins.

At one point my three-year-old niece asked if we could do it differently: could we just use all the pieces, fit them together, and create our own picture? "Sure! That is a great idea," I told her. Inside I was thinking, "This little one knows how to think outside the box and knows how to collaborate . . . NICE!"

I continue to be shocked and amazed by the number and the caliber of people drawn to this project. Take Mike: Yesterday, someone from the Seattle Robotics' Yahoo! group showed up at the shop to solve an electrical problem. We had never met him, but he agreed to come by and give up his Saturday afternoon to fix a couple things!

Then on Friday I received a message that Todd, the owner of the canopy-manufacturing company had made an offer we could not refuse---he proposed that if we would fly him out to Seattle, he would build the canopy frame and mount the canopy to the WikiSpeed car for free. He was willing to offer his time away from the shop, his expert skill, and his labor gratis. Because of his help, we will be guaranteed to get it right the first time. Furthermore, he'll be able to give us pointers for the layup of the next version of our car. (Joe is always thinking of the next iteration . . .)

Don't let me forget Bryan. Last Wednesday we posted the following on Craigslist:
Mechanic/MacGyver (Michigan International Speedway)
Team WIKISPEED is competing in the final rounds of the Progressive Automotive X Prize, and we need a fantastic Honda mechanic to support our team at the Michigan International Speedway the week of May 2-8. We're building a prototype car that will go 100 mpg and will retail for under $20k. The challenges we'll hit will probably be pretty novel---no repairs are routine on a prototype car. Ideally, the candidate would be willing to work at a reduced rate or gratis, since we're a small team of volunteers. An appreciation of MacGyver is helpful.
About our team: We are a group of high-energy volunteers who want to change the way we think about cars. We started building the car in a garage in Denver, have moved to Seattle, and now, with volunteers from all over the country, are heading into the most exciting part of the X Prize challenge, the competitive road tests at the MIS. Sound like fun to you? Join us! For more information, please call us ASAP. Because we're so close to the event and we need to get you credentials, we'll only accept calls regarding this post April 21-22.
WIKISPEED for the Win!
Would you believe it? We had ONE call. His name is Bryan. He is an ASE-certified technician with Honda experience, specializing in electrical systems. Furthermore, he said he's willing to take off work (and work is hard to find out there right now) to volunteer at the Shakedown.

At WikiSpeed we threw out the rules of traditional automobile construction a long time ago. Thinking outside the box and building the car using agile principles is fundamental to our efforts.What is amazing is that every time we open ourselves up to collaboration an expert shows up at just the right time and fits in perfectly.

Nice to know that the next generation of WikiSpeeders get this already!