Challenge races for alternative energy vehicles are becoming much more prevalent as the field continues to grow. There are major ones across the globe, including endurance-testing Australia and others in Europe. South Africa also has a major race, considered one of the more difficult to accomplish. Another of these races is located in North America, the American Solar Challenge.
The American Solar Challenge debuted in 1990 under the name Sunrayce and only involves entries from universities and colleges across the U.S. and Canada. The race generally includes a route stretching across both nations as well, but often only takes place in the U.S.. The race includes only solar-powered vehicles and has multiple stages in which the racers are timed. The resulting total time for every stage is tabulated and the winner announced at the end of the race. The race varies in length depending upon the route, but often is between 1,000 and 2,500 miles in distance.
The 2012 American Solar Challenge took place between Rochester, New York and St. Paul, Minnesota, beginning on July 14th. The 1,650 mile race recently ended and resulted in only a total of four teams finishing the entirety of the race. Overall, eighteen teams competed in the race.
The University of Michigan team was declared the winner, having taken over ten hours less than their closest competitor. This is the seventh win for the university and the fourth win in a row. The team broke the record of the Continuum, a vehicle used in a previous University of Michigan race win. This year’s vehicle, the Quantum, beat the likes of Iowa State University, Principia College and University of California-Berkeley, the second through fourth place finishers.