Sunseeker sails through first solar race qualifying event

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

2012 Sunseeker car

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar race team cleared the first hurdle in qualifying for the American Solar Challenge cross-country race by becoming just the second of 18 college teams to complete the scrutineering portion of the pre-race requirements.

The WMU car received approval in all required areas on the second day of the solar event's three-day scrutineering session, after being inspected by electrical and mechanical engineers for adherence to safety regulations and completing dynamic testing. The car is now cleared to enter the next stage of the solar competition--taking part in the Formula Sun Grand Prix at Monticello (N.Y.) Speedway. Because of its success at scrutineering, the WMU team has earned a second-place starting point in the track event, which begins Tuesday, July 10.

During the track events, cars must complete 105 laps on the 1.6-mile track in a single day or 160 laps over two days. In addition, drivers must complete a minimum of 25 laps to qualify as a driver for the cross-country event. Once teams and their cars complete the required number of laps on the Monticello track, they are officially qualified for the American Solar Challenge, which begins Saturday, July 14, in Rochester, N.Y., and ends eight days and 1,600 miles later in St. Paul, Minn.

The 18 teams from the nation's top engineering schools will race across the country on a course that runs through Kalamazoo. Teams will travel through the downtown area Tuesday, July 17, and out to WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences on the Parkview Campus for a mid-day stop. Each team will spend at least an hour in Kalamazoo, giving the public an opportunity to get a close-up look at all the competing cars.

WMU, which has been participating in such solar events since 1989, is one of three Michigan schools competing this year. The other teams are from the University of Michigan, also a veteran team, and Michigan State University, which is fielding a novice team. Other teams competing come from such schools as Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California-Berkeley.

Sunseeker team member Kenwood Hoben is chronicling the team's activities with daily posts to the team blog at The American Solar Challenge official race site at will track teams' progress completing required laps at the Monticello track and runs a continual round of updates for the overall competition.

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