WMU News

Sunseeker falls behind in first day of solar racing

July 16, 2001

Sunseeker Web site

KALAMAZOO -- WMU's solar car, Sunseeker 295, began the American Solar Race on high note, with the car starting one place in front of a car entered by longtime rivals from the University of Michigan. But they ended the first day of racing on the side of the road near Elkhart, Ill., just a dozen miles short of a critical checkpoint.

With driver Kurt Hayden of Battle Creek, Mich., at the wheel, Sunseeker took off from the Museum of Science and Industry with a ninth place position based on its performance in qualifying events. The University of Michigan's car, the only other entrant from Michigan to qualify, began in the 10th place slot.

WMU alumnus Keith Gill, '88, transportation curator at the museum, waved the green flag for Sunseeker as it took off from the starting line. With spectacular sunny weather to charge its batteries. The car headed east on 57th Street , then south on Stony Island Avenue before picking up Route 66 for the start of the 2,300-mile trek to Clarmont, Calif.

But a bad bearing in a rear wheel forced the car to the side of the road near Braidwood, Ill., and repairs cost the team valuable sunlight hours. Once back on the road, with its stored energy waning, team members were forced to keep the car's speed to the 25-30 mph range before finally running out of power near Elkhart.

At the close of the racing day, the team was still in Elkhart and had not passed through the official race checkpoint in Springfield, Ill., so no official mileage or time for Sunseeker was recorded for
the day even though it had traveled nearly 200 miles. At days end, team members were laying their plans for a comeback and deciding how best to ensure their arrival Monday night in Rolla, Mo., for a mandatory ASC overnight stay.

For daily updates during the race, go to the Web sites for WMU News, WMU Sunseeker or the American Solar Challenge.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400