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

July 18, 2005

Minnesota Takes Early Lead in North American Solar Challenge

Photo of a low, flat, rectangular solar vehicle, its top covered with solar cells, passing a crowd as a man in the foreground waves a green flag.

The University of Michigan solar car is flagged out in Weatherford, Texas, by Mayor Joe Tison on July 18th.
Credit: Stefano Paltera/North American Solar Challenge

The University of Minnesota is the early leader of the North American Solar Challenge, as of July 18th. The 2,500-mile solar car race started on July 17th in Austin, Texas, and will end in Calgary, Alberta, on July 27th. After qualifying rounds last week, 20 teams are in the race, including five teams from Canada. Although the University of Michigan led after the first day, Minnesota had an impressive run on July 18th, stacking up a 37-minute lead over the University of Missouri-Rolla and a 50-minute lead over Michigan. In this second and longest leg of the race, teams drive as far as they can over a 10-hour period each day, aiming for Winnipeg, Manitoba, by Saturday. The July 18th results are based on when the teams passed a checkpoint in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Notable as the first solar race to cross an international border, the North American Solar Challenge is sponsored by DOE, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Natural Resources Canada, the University of Calgary, and CSI Wireless Inc. See the race schedule, the latest press releases, and the "Reports from the Road" by DOE's Richard King on the North American Solar Challenge Web site.

High school students also have a chance to cut their teeth on solar cars, through the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge, a project of the Winston School in Dallas, Texas. This year's eight-day race started in Round Rock, Texas, on July 8th and ended in Pasadena, California, on July 16th. Maintaining a five-year winning streak, the Houston Solar Race Team from Houston, Mississippi, won the open division—which allows high-efficiency solar cells and hub-mounted motors—by averaging 29 mph, with a top speed of 57 mph. The team from Saint Thomas Academy, a military school in Minnesota, won the "classic" division with an average speed of 26 mph. See the Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge Web site and the Dell press release.