But as the Cal Super Mileage Vehicle Team loaded its ultralight carbon-fiber three-wheeler into a trailer for the long haul from Berkeley to Houston, Murphy was definitely in the driver's seat. Anything that could go wrong did — and did so in the last 12 hours before the team was to leave for the Shell Eco-marathon.
The Eco-marathon is a race, of sorts. The only goal is doing 10 laps around a Houston park at an average speed of 15 mph while consuming the teeniest, tiniest amount of energy possible.
Last year's winners, from Laval University in Quebec, achieved a phenomenal 2,487.5 mpg with a futuristic streamlined three-wheeler that weighed less than the engine in your hoopty. The University of California at Berkeley is among 70 teams — from 31 universities and 18 high schools throughout North America — slated to compete in this weekend's race.