The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Student Spotlight: Victor Zhang (‘22) drives homemade go-cart around campus

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Nancy Lin
Mr. Kays and Victor Zhang (’22) move the go-kart to the center of the road and prepare to make final checks.

Have you ever thought about what it really takes to build a go-kart from scratch? Victor Zhang (‘22) challenged himself last year to do just that, using parts he sourced during the pandemic out of his love of physics to build a go-kart with the help of Brian Kays, science department faculty.

On November 17th, Victor got ready for Webb’s first-ever Grand Prix in front of the Copeland Donahue Theatre. With his go-cart, nicknamed “The Flash,” Victor drove out to the museum steps and back, celebrating when he returned. He attached a lightning bolt pendant to the front of the go-kart, a symbol that echoes its name.

It all started on April 10th, 2020, when Victor decided to build a go-kart from scratch. Ever since he was young, he has been infatuated with go-karts. When he was just six years old, he used to fondly watch his mom drive a golf cart, and at ten years old, he got to drive his own.

“I wanted to build a go-kart because I was bored during quarantine,” Victor said. “I wanted something to do, so I started the project. Another reason was because I like building things and I like cars.”

And it was as simple as that: he had a goal and the means to accomplish it, so he started his journey. Although Victor is familiar with engines and the physics behind creating one, his road was not without bumps along the way.

“Often times, it wouldn’t work out and I ended up with several broken parts,” Victor said. “There were a lot of failures I had to take because I was on a pretty tight timeframe, and I had a pretty small budget. There wasn’t a lot of room for mistakes. Now I realize that making mistakes is part of the process to make it better.”

Initially, Victor planned to finish the go-kart before August 2020, when school was scheduled to start but found that the resources he needed were unavailable due to the pandemic. Although COVID-19 put a damper on his project, Victor was not discouraged and took a step back.

“I decided to use the time to design the kart a little better and buy the parts when they were more accessible and cheaper.” Victor said.

The first portion of his project was done at home in Claremont, while the second was completed on campus with the supervision of Mr. Kays.

“It was very generous of Webb to give me a specific place for me to build the go-kart, which is [the wood shop] between North and South Hutch,” Victor said. “I’m very grateful for the resources I was given by my supervisor, who is also my physics teacher, Mr. Kays. He helped me a lot during the building process. He supervised me while I was using tools and made sure that I was okay when I was using them.”

“I provided some technical support when he had questions or told him places where he could find those answers, but by the time he was here building on campus, he was at a stage of build that didn’t require too much, and he already knew exactly what he was doing,” Mr. Kays said.

Wednesday, November 17th, at 2:45 p.m., Victor drove “The Flash” for the first time in front of an audience. The eager crowd stationed themselves along his track, from the start/finish line at Copeland Donahue Theatre, to the Crossroads, to the Museum steps where he would perform his U-turn.

“Before the race I felt excited and nervous at the same time because about an hour before the race, I installed new parts on [the go-kart] and I haven’t gotten any drive time on it before the race, so I was a little nervous about the parts,” Victor said. “The excitement part was kind of expected because I love driving it.”

Getting ready for his run, Victor prepared his vehicle for takeoff as Mr. Kays revved the engine.

Prior to the race, Victor did multiple checks to his go-kart, one which involved opening the fuel valve. He was in a rush to get to B-block after lunch, resulting in the fuel valve not being properly closed. Victor had not told Mr. Kays that he was supposed to turn off the fuel valve before moving the car. If the engine is tilted, the fuel would overflow into the retainer, preventing air from entering it, which resulted in the go-kart malfunctioning towards the start.

“The air-fuel mixture was really rich, too much fuel for air, and it wasn’t burning enough things and then it got clogged up a lot,” Victor said. “After starting it again and figuring out the retainer was flooded, I gave it a lot of gas and managed to unclog the exhaust, that’s what the big pop was, and after all the residual fuel was burned and exited the engine, the engine was running in the normal air fuel mixture and started working fine.”

Thankfully, they were able to restart the engine and the crowd began their count down. “Three! Two! One! Go!” Victor zooms off, leaving a trail of smoke and a chorus of cheers.

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About the Contributors
Nancy Lin, Editor-In-Chief
Passionate, open-minded, and ambitious are three words that describe Nancy Lin (‘23), and with these characteristics, she is ready to lead The Webb Canyon Chronicle as the Editor-in-Chief.  Nancy is a very involved student at The Webb Schools, showcasing her strong leadership skills as vice student body president, a source of her strong leadership skills. Nancy was first born in Shanghai, China but then later moved to Vancouver, Canada where she spends most of her time away from Webb. Nancy spends her free time in many different ways: listening to a variety of music genres, practicing golf, playing the piano, baking, and rewatching for the billionth time, The Notebook. On the days she spends at home, Nancy makes sure to visit her family, spend time with friends, and most importantly, see her dog Yuanbao!  Although she likes her sweets, like chocolate, she also enjoys a nice Italian or Korean dinner. She stays up to date on school events and is very passionate about international news and global affairs. This year, Nancy is ambitious to hit the ground running as a new Head Editor, excited to publish stories about Webb and the world beyond.   Favorite song: "Runaway" by Kanye West
Heloise Robertson, Chief Copy Editor
Delightful and entertaining Heloise Robertson (‘23) is a cherished personality at Webb for her friendly face and hilarious jokes. Our new Chief Copy Editor is a secretly talented chef, a caring camp counselor, an avid fan of horror literature, and the Webb Canyon Chronicle’s fastest editor. She has learned the importance of teamwork and empathy through participating in basketball and cross country. If you need a hand, hers is out to pick you up. Her personal goals this year are to keep a healthy self-care routine, starting with making her bed every morning before school. Heloise’s vision board for journalism includes making sure every article is timely, ensuring that she spots every grammar mistake, and including the student body in the publication better. Knock on this Head Editor’s Jameson dorm room, and you’ll find her eating sushi, watching Despicable Me, and lying on her stuffed elephant.  “This Charming Man” by The Smiths 
George Cardenas, Editor of News
An avid music listener, George Cardenas (‘23)’s perfect weekend involves a homework-free day at the beach with “Night Boat to Cairo” by Madness blasting in the background. In fact, George considers himself to be a very easy-going, optimistic person, who loves nothing more than relaxing with his friends or experimenting on the piano. Although he does enjoy tranquility, George also works with his fellow members of the WSC honor cabinet to uphold Webb’s Honor Code. George is passionate about staying up to date with current events and wants to continue keeping everyone informed during his time on the Webb Canyon Chronicle. A typical Capricorn, George is disciplined, strategic, and clever— similar to a wolf, his self-proclaimed spirit animal. George looks forward to working on the WCC this year as Co-Editor of News and hopes to write authentic, factually correct articles that enlighten the Webb community. Favorite song: "Tadow" by FKJ and Masego
Jovana Luna, Chief of Features
Whether it’s her closest friends or her fellow classmates, everyone who knows her agrees that Jovana Luna ('24) is an unforgettable presence on Webb’s campus. As a Feature editor of the Webb Canyon Chronicle, she is keen on improving the publication by expressing her creativity through multimedia endeavors on the WCC website. Beyond her academic pursuits, she possesses a musical flair and has mastered the electric guitar over five years to serenade her friends and neighbors alike with songs such as "Bohemian Rhapsody". She is an avid fan of classic rock and Taylor Swift, her favorite artist. Attending a Taylor Swift concert over the summer has only deepened Jovana’s love of her music after her amazing experience. Jovana has been an avid dancer for the entirety of her life and enjoys performing even at Webb. During the summer, she had a bustling schedule working at Coldstone Creamery, but she never forgot to walk her beloved dog, Apollo, every morning. Now that she’s back at school, Jovana's weekends are filled with quality time spent with friends as they hang out and talk together.   Song: Long Live - Taylor Swift

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