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

July 16, 2003

Twenty Solar Cars Now Racing Along Historic Route 66

The American Solar Challenge is now underway! Teams of students from 20 universities are racing their solar-powered cars along 2,300 miles of historic Route 66. The road race began in Chicago and winds its way down to northern Texas, then across the desert Southwest, ending in Los Angeles on July 23rd.

Although 30 teams had entered the race, 10 failed to pass safety and qualifying tests, narrowing the field to just 20 solar cars. Kansas State University earned the pole position in the race after driving 526 miles on a closed course in the qualifier race. See the DOE press release.

As of Tuesday evening, July 15th, the University of Minnesota held the first-place spot, followed closely by the University of Missouri-Rolla, Kansas State University, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Throughout this year's race, daily reports from the road, race standings, photos, and videos will be posted on the American Solar Challenge Web site. Race positions have been shifting rapidly in this year's close race, so be sure to follow along!

Future contenders in the American Solar Challenge are having their own day in the sun-actually, a whole week-as the Dell-Winston Solar Challenge is now underway. Open only to high school students, the Dell-Winston Solar Challenge began in Round Rock, Texas, on Tuesday and will run east for eight days and 1,500 miles, ending in Cocoa, Florida. This year, only one car is racing in the "classic" division, and four cars are competing in the "open" division, which allows the use of high-efficiency solar cells (within cost limits) and hub-mounted motors. Like the American Solar Challenge, the Dell-Winston Solar Challenge Web site features daily updates of race standings, photos, and videos, and also includes a GPS-based system that displays the cars' locations in real time.