My city hosted a checkpoint for the The North American Solar Car Challenge, a race from Texas to Alberta, this week. The race route passed right outside the front door of my employer. I tracked them on their GPS page during the day Wednesday and as each car went by outside people inside the building were increasingly curious. The last three times I stepped outside to see a car there were 8 to 10 people with me.
It was quite cool to see the little spaceship-like vehicles buzz by on one of the busiest streets in town, each accompanied by two or three full size vans and SUV’s (thank you very much.)
The race reminded me of a combination of Pinewood Derby, Cannonball Run (it’s a movie that I’m actually to young to remember), and a whole lotta grant money. Anyone can enter but who’s got time and money for that? The 20 teams this year were groups of students from different universities. Wednesday the University of Minnesota was first by the front door followed by MIT about 30 minutes later. Seems like a pretty great way for a student to spend a summer, except for the 110 degree heat the drivers endure. For a sense of race strategy this daily report seems worthwhile.
The GPS revealed that one team spent the night in town, so I attempted to catch the early bus to downtown to check out the car. I waited at the stop for almost 20 minutes before deciding even if I hadn’t missed the bus I needed to get going, so I rode my bike in. (I verified today with my usual driver that I had missed it because it was early.)
At the checkpoint I found Fusion from Iowa State University with their panels pointed to the sun charging the batteries and the demonstration class hydrogen powered car Subzero IV H2 from the University of North Dakota getting some fresh duct tape.