Solar Car Grand Prix Wraps up in Kansas

The sun was shining bright and the roads were flat – perfect for one of the fist solar car races of the summer. The 2004 Formula Sun Grand Prix, featuring solar cars built by colleges and universities from North America, was held on May 19 – 21 at Heartland Park Topeka.

Topeka, Kansas – May 26, 2004 [] The 2003 American Solar Challenge national champion, University of Missouri Rolla, completed 413 laps on the 2.1 mile road coarse to take first place. Following close behind was the 2003 Grand Prix defending champions, University of Minnesota (403 laps); with Kansas State University (374 laps) in third place. The Formula Sun Grand Prix 2004 is a three-day race for full-size solar powered, photovoltaic (PV) cars – similar to those built by colleges and universities that have competed in past national cross-country races. “The fundamental mission of the solar events are to promote and celebrate educational and technological excellence,” said Jim Ploger, energy manager at the KCC. “Fueled by the spirit of friendly competition and teamwork, these events champion the creative integration of technical and scientific expertise across a range of exciting disciplines.” The mission includes the support and encouragement of bright minds to succeed in fields of engineering, science, mathematics, multi-disciplined learning and in subsequent careers and endeavors. Other teams participating included Kansas State University, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri Columbia; and three Canadian teams: Ecole de technologie superieur, McMaster University, and University of Western Ontario. On May 23, the 10th Annual Solar BikeRayce USA featured three-dozen solar-charged electric bicycles and small cars in a 100K race. Many of the smaller vehicles are built by high schools from throughout the nation. In the popular S class, Saint Thomas Academy from Minneapolis, MN, garnered the first place honors in both the S class electric car and Overall with a record breaking time of 1 hour and 52 minutes on the 52-mile road course. Los Altos High School from Hacienda Heights, CA, took second place honors; and Avon High School, Avon, OH, was third. Saint Thomas’ A class electric bicycle entry completed the same course in 2 hours and 8 minutes, also a record breaking time. Dina Motive Team from Modena, Italy, won first place in B class bicycle; while Lincoln College Prep Academy from Jackson, MO, won first place in the X class bicycle category. The solar events are underwritten by a major grant from the Kansas Corporation Commission Energy Programs. Other sponsors include Crowder College M.A.R.E.T. Center, Formula Sun Foundation, New Resources Group and the U.S. Department of Energy.
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