After 8 days of rising with the sun, we finished the American Solar Challenge in second place, on our home campus. Go Gophers! The final day of the race was a shorter stage, beginning in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and ending in the Victory parking lot at the University of Minnesota. We were in a close race for first place with the University of Michigan, but ultimately came in second due to two minor breakdowns on the road. In third place was our neighbor to the south, PrISUm, from Iowa State University!
Overall, eight teams successfully finished the American Solar Challenge, which was 1700 miles from Austin to Minneapolis. Eight cars traveled 1700 miles only on the power of the sun. Just pause for a second and think about what that means. Think about what it feels like to run five miles, how much energy you have to use, and what kind of appetite you have afterwards. The sun is powerful, and it is truly incredible how these teams have managed to capture its power on a moving, blinking, honking vehicle.
Seeing each team running next to their vehicle as they crossed the finish line and the smiles on every face was incredible. There was a large amount of cheering and clapping for each team, but ours received an especially warm welcome as family members and alumni alike crowded around our car as we had our post-race inspection. Once every team was in, all of the cars were lined up for the spectators to see and the teams mingled and traded race-crew shirts.
After that warm welcome, there was a banquet for the teams in the DQ room in TCF stadium. Everyone was treated to a hearty meal of tacos with chips and salsa. Once everyone had eaten, the final awards were given out. The places first through third, as stated before, were the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, and Iowa State University. Next the inspectors who ran scruitineering gave out awards for safety, teamwork, mechanical reliability, and the safest battery pack. Last, but not least, the observers gave out awards to each team. The observers kept a close eye on each team in the race, since they lived with us each leg of the race.
They gave us a set of silverware so that we could spread jelly in our chase van on future races. We didn’t have any silverware on the race, because our silverware got soot on it during FSGP and was thrown out. The observers observed us squeezing jelly from non-squeezable jelly jars onto our sandwiches. Thank you! Now we can spread jelly!
My favorite observer award was the one for Western Michigan University. The observers noted that they had creative race crew positions on their badges, such as “Telemetry Telepath.” However, there was one name they were concerned about, the name was something like “Rubber Tire Streaker” and the observers gave the team member in question a badge without the word “Streaker” in it because they didn’t want to see that.
After the awards event, the teams separated looking forward to expanding the support of solar racing in future years. Our team is planning on attending FSGP 2015 in preparation for WSC 2015. We wish every team luck and sunny skys as they drive home and continue working on solar vehicles.
Today we would like to thank the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering and all of our Alumni who have supported us with either sponsorships or knowledge. The College of Science and Engineering provides us with a work space and funding to ensure that the project continues to provide unlimited learning opportunities to students at the U. As for our Alumni, thank you especially to Sam Lenius, Johathan Nutzmann, Brett Paulson, Adem Rudin, Tyler Coffey, Dan Vogl, and Jonathan Olson. It was nice to see some of you at the finish line, and thank you for continuing to fail the 12 step program.
One final thank-you is needed to all of the officials, observers, and scruitineers that made this race possible. This would not be possible without you, excellent job keeping us safe and having fun during FSGP and ASC!
Thank you for reading our blog, and wish us luck as we enter the design/build process for our next solar vehicle!