Keedysville teen has designs on car career

May 22, 1997


Staff Writer

Ike Auldridge is hoping to land a very specific job when he grows up.

"I'd really like to be a designer of the Corvette one day," said Auldridge, 14, who reads everything about the General Motors sports car he can get his hands on. "That would be my dream."

Until then, the Boonsboro Middle School eighth-grader is using his own line of wooden cars to test out the design concepts he sees automobile engineers using.

Auldridge, son of Mark and Rebecca Auldridge of Keedysville, started building the small cars about a year and a half ago.


He and friend Josh Willetts, a seventh-grader at Boonsboro Middle, got the idea after Willetts' sister made a carbon dioxide-driven car in her high school shop class, Auldridge said.

Instead of copying its rudimentary design and trying to replicate the carbon-dioxide launching system, they decided to make more realistic "drift" cars based on their own original drawings, he said.

"Drift" means the cars need a push or an incline to start moving, said Auldridge, who hopes he and Willetts will finish a special track for their cars this summer.

Auldridge's two finished cars - sized to fit on standard wheels he buys from a toy catalog - are on display near his school's art classrooms.

Because of accidents, redesigns and repaintings, it took about a year to finish the first car, he said.

The basic body construction, consisting of nine pieces of wood cut from 2-by-4 boards, took only about a month, Auldridge said.

But it was hard getting the flames on the front just so, he said.

In addition to repairing damage from the accidents - one on the test track and another on a driveway - Auldridge said he found himself making small changes to make the car more durable.

His second car - dubbed the Misaacmobile - took only about a month and a half to finish, though the two-piece wooden body was much trickier to shape, he said.

The car projects pair two interests, cars and woodworking, said Auldridge, who started doing simple things with his father's tools at age 5 or 6 and now has his own corner in his father's basement workshop.

"My dad's a carpenter so he's always had the tools around," he said. "He says I'm a natural. I don't know. I always fooled around, and I guess I just taught myself."

Auldridge made a lot of key holders - each just a block of wood with a hole in it and some hooks - before moving on to the small trinket boxes he was making when he decided to tackle the first car, he said.

Until recently, Auldridge liked building cars and other things out of Lego-brand building blocks.

He said he still likes to put together plastic model cars.

He draws cars a lot, he said, and likes reading about them in magazines, where he has found a wealth of information about aerodynamics and other design considerations.

He borrows design elements - like the 1997 Corvette's rear-end styling - to make his cars as aerodynamic as possible, he said.

Auldridge sees his first car as a twist on both an old hot rod, because of the way it tapers in the front, and an Indy race car, because of the exposed wheels.

There are shades of the 1963 Corvette in the second car's tapered roof and a maybe a little Dodge Viper, he said.

Still, he's no copycat, he said.

"I try to keep them as original as possible because I don't want to take a design from anyone else," said Auldridge, who started working on the drawing for his third car about a week ago.

It still needs work, he said, though he's pleased with the roof and back end, including a recessed back window and a spoiler.

"I always put spoilers," Auldridge said. "That's my trademark."

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