This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 30, 2008

University of Michigan Wins the North American Solar Challenge

Photo of a solar car featuring a low flat surface covered by solar cells with a bubble-like cockpit in the center, supported by three wheels that are largely hidden by aerodynamic casings. The University of Michigan team runs along with the car as it approaches the finish line, which is marked by a rope with checkered flags hanging from it.

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team won the North American Solar Challenge by finishing nearly 10 hours ahead of its closest challenger. Enlarge this image.
Credit: University of Calgary

The University of Michigan has successfully defended its title in the largest solar car race in North America. The 2008 North American Solar Challenge (NASC) concluded on July 22 in Calgary, Alberta, after 10 days of solar-powered racing from the start in Plano, Texas. The University of Michigan completed the 2,400-mile race in about 51 hours and 42 minutes, finishing nearly 10 hours ahead of its closest competitor and achieving an average speed of about 46 miles per hour. The Michigan team was now won the NASC (and its previous incarnations) a total of five times, including the previous running of the race in 2005. This year, 15 university teams entered the race, but two failed to qualify. The competition included nine U.S. teams from universities in eight states, as well as four Canadian teams and one team each from England and Germany. See the University of Michigan press release and team Web site and the NASC Web site.

This summer's solar racing has a definite theme of returning champions, rather than the rise of new upstarts, and that theme was reflected in the nation's top solar race for high school teams, the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge. The race was held on July 7-10 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Justin, Texas, and this year, the team from the Houston Vocational Center in Houston, Mississippi, won the race for the eighth time in a row. And talk about rubbing it in: the Houston school actually had two entries—one in the "classic" division and one in the "open" division—and both teams won first place in their divisions. The race featured 15 teams from 14 schools, including five schools in Texas, four in Mississippi, and one each in Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Connecticut, and New York. Next year, the race will take to the road again, with a route that runs from Texas to Colorado. See the race results on the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge Web site.