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Sunseeker helps Indy 500 unveil anniversary plans

Nov. 22, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's solar racecar Sunseeker was on hand Nov. 19, to help officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveil plans for a tech day that will be a critical part of the speedway's 100th anniversary celebration in 2011.

Photo of WMU solar car sunseeker and team at Indy.Seeking to "continue its legacy as an incubator and proving ground of automotive innovation for more than a century," the 100th Anniversary Indy 500 Emerging Tech Day has been set for Saturday, May 7, at IMS. The event will feature exhibition an competition at IMS by alternative-power vehicles in the Formula Hybrid and American Solar Challenge series and by students from Purdue University.

The tech day event is one of three large events set at the track during the week that will serve as a prelude to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, dubbed by speedway officials as "the most important race in history."

Invited to represent the American Solar Challenge at the announcement were WMU's Sunseeker and members of the Sunseeker racing team. Team member Nicholas Killoran is featured on a YouTube video about the announcement released by IMS officials, and the visually appealing Sunseeker is the featured photo accompanying the track's official news release.

"The 100th Anniversary Indy 500 Emerging Tech Day is a great addition to our impressive lineup of interesting, fun and fan-friendly events surrounding the Most Important Race in History next May," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief executive officer. "There's no better place than IMS to display green technology due to the Speedway's rich heritage of automotive innovation through the Indianapolis 500, whether it was the first rear-view mirror on Ray Harroun's winning car in 1911, the turbine engine used in the famous STP cars of the late 1960s or so many other examples."

The Sunseeker team was invited to be part of the announcement last month. Other solar teams around the nation were informed of the tech day competition and sworn to secrecy about the news," according to Abraham Poot, Sunseeker team advisor. Six members of the WMU team traveled to Indianapolis late Nov. 18 and displayed their vehicle at the Nov. 19 morning news conference announcing tech day.

WMU has been a competitor in the American Solar Challenge since its inception 20 years ago. The biennial event is a competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars in a cross-country time/distance rally event that covers between 1,200 to 1,500 miles between multiple cities.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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