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WMU solar car qualifies, begins Indy Speedway track race

by Cheryl Roland

May 5, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMU's Sunseeker solar racecar.
Sunseeker, WMU's solar racecar
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Sunseeker passed all qualifying requirements and is on the track today, racing at the Indianapolis Speedway in the American Solar Challenge's Formula Sun Grand Prix 2011.

The race is one of a series of events planned to help celebrate this year's 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. The May 5-7 solar race and a Saturday, May 7, Emerging Tech Day will highlight the Indy's original purpose of serving as a testing ground for new technology.

Michigan technology is well represented at the solar event, with three of the 11 teams competing coming from Michigan schools. The University of Michigan and Michigan State University, a newcomer to solar racing, have teams in the race as well. Other schools represented include universities of Kentucky, Minnesota and New Mexico; as well as Illinois State, Iowa State and Northwestern universities; Missouri University of Science and Technology; and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Sunseeker began the track event in fourth place, besting the two other Michigan schools. The teams earned their starting positions during two days of scrutineering, in which the team cars were assessed for safety and stability during such maneuvers as turning, braking, and high-speed operation, as well as adherence to race requirements covering size, structure, solar arrays, electrical systems and battery management.

For more information and race updates, call team advisor Abraham Poot, who is in Indianapolis with the 15 engineering students who make up the WMU team. He can be reached at (269) 808-0850. The American Solar Challenge's Formula Sun Grand Prix website is continually updated with race and team status and photos.