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

June 01, 2005

Seven Teams Qualify for the North American Solar Challenge

Photo of a low, nearly flat vehicle, covered with solar panels, with the driver's head barely visible in a bubble-shaped cockpit.

The University of Minnesota's solar car hits the raceway in Topeka.
Credit: Richard King, DOE

University teams and their solar-powered cars had their first chance to qualify for the 2005 North American Solar Challenge in May, and seven of the teams met the challenge. The American Solar Challenge is a solar car race held every other year and normally taking place within the United States; this year's race runs from Austin, Texas, to Calgary, Alberta, and has appropriately been renamed the North American Solar Challenge. Solar racers attempted to qualify for the race by competing in the sixth annual Formula Sun Grand Prix 2005, held at Heartland Park Raceway in Topeka, Kansas, from May 18th to 20th. The seven qualifying teams include the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, and Auburn University (of Alabama)—the three race leaders at the Formula Sun Grand Prix—as well as the University of Missouri-Rolla, the "CalSol" team from University of California at Berkeley; the University of Michigan; and Northwestern University (of Illinois).

Thirty solar car teams from across North America were blessed with perfect weather at the Formula Sun Grand Prix. The event was dominated by a strong performance from the University of Minnesota solar car team, which logged more than 850 miles on the track during the three-day solar marathon. See the press release (PDF 31 KB) and for the full race results, see the Formula Sun Grand Prix Web site. Download Acrobat Reader.

The 2005 North American Solar Challenge will start in Austin on July 17th and end in Calgary on July 27th. Currently, 32 teams intend to face the challenges of the 2,500-mile race, which will be not only the longest solar car race in the world, but also the first to cross an international border. The race is sponsored by DOE, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Natural Resources Canada, and includes five Canadian solar car teams. Teams that failed to qualify in Kansas will have a final chance to qualify at a pre-race event in Texas. See the 2005 North American Solar Challenge Web site.