Sunseeker completes track event, now ready for cross-country race

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2012 Sunseeker team

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar race team completed 107 laps of the track at Monticello (N.Y.) Speedway Tuesday to become the third collegiate team to qualify for the American Solar Challenge cross-country race that begins Saturday, July 14.

By late Tuesday, only three teams had completed the track portion of the event and were qualified to compete in the cross-country event. The other two teams are from the University of Michigan and Iowa State University.

Cars needed to pass a number of technical inspections and dynamic tests to take to the track Tuesday through Thursday. 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 two 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 wmu-sunseeker.blogspot.com.

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