Across eight states in eight days, the nation’s winningest solar car team from U-M will defend its title this month in the American Solar Challenge that includes an overnight stop in its hometown.
The student team is vying for its seventh first-place finish and fourth consecutive championship. The North American contest has been held roughly every other year since 1990, when U-M won the inaugural event with a car called Sunrunner.
This year, the team will race Quantum, its lightest-ever vehicle that finished third in the World Solar Challenge in Australia last fall. Quantum weighs a full 200 pounds less than its most recent predecessor, and it is 30 percent more aerodynamic. The team of mostly undergraduates designs and builds a new car every two years.
The 1,650-mile American race starts in Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday, July 14, and ends in St. Paul, Minn. Compared with previous routes, the path cuts through more cities and towns, and that could mean a tighter contest. In 2010, U-M finished two hours before its nearest competitor.
For the first time, the race will go through Ann Arbor in an overnight stop on July 16.
“It will be nice to show the other teams where we’re from,” says Mazur, a Commerce native who was a driver in the last American race and also in the world race in 2011.
Jeff Kopmanis, application programmer senior at the Center for Space Environment Modeling, College of Engineering, on his job: “I make the Web front-ends (that) make it possible for ordinary people to run these very sophisticated tools.”