How to Spend Your Entire Income Building a Car that Must Travel 100 Miles on a Single Gallon of Gas
Jason Fagone | Ingenious, Crown Publishing Group | November 2013 | 20 minutes (4,972 words)
Below is the first chapter from Jason Fagone’s new book, Ingenious, about the X Prize Foundation’s $10 million competition to build a car that can travel 100 miles on a single gallon of gas. Thanks to Fagone and Crown Publishing for sharing it with the Longreads community. You can purchase the full book here.
We speed west into a bank of mottled clouds and blue-black sky and not much else. We drip with sweat. The launch site is two miles back and counting: the barn where the light is on and the guys are waiting to hear if everything’s okay. We try to talk to one another, we shout and scream, but our words get shredded by motor noise, by a sound like a blender gone berserk, whirring and rising to a blastoff pitch.
There are four of us in here: me, a woman named Jen Danzinger, and two men. The men are in front, firing questions at each other in quick bursts. I’m in back with Jen. She braces a hand against the door. Headlights blaze by in the oncoming lane. I wonder how much the other driver noticed—maybe just a silvery bulge, maybe our vehicle’s whole weird shape. Elongated fuselage, tapering tail. Does he have any idea what the hell he just passed?