WMU News

Sunseeker ends first day in seventh place

July 14, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's Sunseeker solar racecar began the 2,300-mile American Solar Challenge July 13 with kudos from the event's inspectors and a strong first day of racing that put the car in southern Illinois at the official close of the event's first day.

The team went through the first checkpoint in the race, in Springfield, Ill., and left that checkpoint at 5:36 p.m. (CDT) in seventh place, having completed the first 206 miles of the race in just under six hours. The team from the University of Waterloo is currently in first place.

Sunseeker began the day with an official starting position of 12th out of the 20 cars that qualified for the race during the pre-race week of scrutineering at Northwestern University and the MGA Research Track in Burlington, Wis. Cars left the starting line at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry at one-minute intervals according to their official starting position. Sunseeker's actual departure was moved up by two minutes when two of the cars ahead of it were not able to begin the race due to technical difficulties.

With team co-captain Roger Anthony in the driver's seat, Sunseeker was introduced to the crowd by the U.S. Department of Energy's Richard King, who described Sunseeker as a car that race inspectors had judged "slick and well crafted."

The evening before, at a pre-race banquet for participating teams and race officials, the WMU car received the "Inspectors' Choice" award, which is given to the vehicle race inspectors rated tops in such areas as mechanical and electrical systems, dynamics and roadworthiness.

Although 29 teams from colleges and universities across the United States and Canada arrived in Chicago last week to compete, only 20 made it through the rigorous inspection and completed the 141 miles of track work to qualify for the race. Those that did not make the cut included such notable teams as the University of Michigan, home of the 2001 ASC winning car, as well as Northwestern University, which was host to this year's scrutineering sessions.

The WMU car received a send-off from a small group of WMU officials who traveled to Chicago to join the families and friends of team members there to support the team at the start of the race. WMU officials present included Dr. Judith I. Bailey, president of the University and Dr. Michael Atkins, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

To follow the race as it unfolds, go to the ASC Web site at <www.formulasun.org/asc>. The site includes a map of the route with information about stops and the location of the race leader. A daily update link carries information about the last know location of each team and discloses current standings, miles completed and time elapsed.

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

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