Sunseeker places seventh in American Solar Challenge race

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of the Sunseeker solar race car.

WMU's Sunseeker solar race car

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar racing team finished the American Solar Challenge in seventh place overall, crossing the Minneapolis finish line Monday, July 28, after a cross-country race of more than 1,700 miles that began in Austin, Texas, last week.

Coming in first was the University of Michigan, followed by the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Polytechnique Montreal, Principia College and Oregon State University. The winning total elapsed time for completing the 1,751 miles of the race was 41 hours and 27 minutes.

About the race

Of the eight teams that managed to complete the course, only Iowa State was penalty free. WMU's sole assessed penalty came on Stage 4 when overcast weather forced the team to trailer its vehicle into La Crosse, Wisc., for the final portion of that day's course.

The 14-member WMU team qualified its car for the race by passing the requirements of scrutineering, an in-depth examination of the car's technical and safety features. Then the team took to the closed track course at Austin's Circuit for the Americas and tied the University of Minnesota for third place after three days of racing in the Formula Sun Grand Prix Powered by Austin Energy.

Those two steps made the WMU team one of just 10 teams from colleges and universities around the world to qualify to race in the American Solar Challenge. A total of 21 teams began the qualifying process for the cross-country event, and only eight of the ten qualifiers ultimately completed that course.

The Sunseeker team has been posting blog updates, Facebook and Twitter items as well as photographs of the race and accompanying activities. Links to all can be found at