WMU News

First solar cars arrive Tuesday for qualifying trials

June 29, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The first of more than 30 solar-powered cars built by some of the top collegiate engineering students in the world will arrive on the Western Michigan University campus beginning Tuesday, July 3, to take part in the July 9-13 WMU Formula Sun Grand Prix, the final qualifying trials for this year's American Solar Challenge.

Cars that qualify at WMU will go on to compete in the national cross-country solar race that begins Sunday, July 15, at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and concludes 10 days later in Claremont, Calif. Teams representing the nation's top engineering schools and several international organizations will travel historic Route 66 as they tackle the 2,300 miles of the world's longest solar car race.

A car from South Bank University in England is scheduled to arrive first at WMU. That car and the team that built it will spend the final days before the qualifying tests working alongside WMU's Sunseeker solar race team in the University's Vehicle Design Labs.

An Italian entry is due to arrive on campus July 5 and the remaining cars will descend on Kalamazoo over the following three days. Schools bringing cars to the event include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Missouri-Rolla, the University of Virginia, Texas A & M, the University of Michigan and Stanford University, which has two cars in the event. A number of Canadian schools also will be represented.

Vehicle testing to ensure cars meet ASC race requirements will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, July 9, and continue through 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, in the area surrounding the Miller Auditorium Parking Ramp on the Southwest Corner of the WMU campus. Tests conducted at WMU are designed to evaluate overall vehicle roadworthiness by assessing the performance of each car in such areas as braking, steering and stability. Officials also will confirm that the cars conform to ASC regulations concerning size, materials, battery systems and solar arrays. Each team will have an inspection location on the second floor of the parking ramp. Officials will bring evaluation teams to each car for stationary evaluations. Cars move to courses set up for braking, steering and other moving tests.

Those cars that have passed vehicle testing on the WMU campus will travel to GingerMan Raceway in nearby South Haven, Mich., for qualifying laps on a 1.88-mile asphalt road course at that facility. To qualify, cars must complete 125 miles on the track within a single day and with an average lap speed of 25 mph. Qualifying work at the track will take place from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, July 13. All qualifying events are open to the public without charge.

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

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