Read, Set, Solar! American Solar Challenge- Racing Solar Cars

Students at universities all over the country have been using their time in the class room to tackle a large-scale engineering challenge: design, build, test and race a solar powered vehicle. Students from the Cockrell School of Engineering have taken on this challenge gladly.

“The Formula Sun Grand Prix challenges students to address areas of energy management, aerodynamics, fabrication and high-tech materials,” said Edgar Farrera, Circuit of The Americas’ director of sustainability. “We hope students’ involvement in this challenge inspires them to seek careers in these critical fields of study.”

The University of Texas at Austin Solar Vehicles Team (UTSVT) is just one of the teams taking on the Formula Sun Grand Prix June 24-29 at the Circuit of The Americas complex. The American Solar Challenge takes place every year and this will be the first time that the solar vehicles will race on an official Formula 1 track.

“We’re very excited about the upcoming race,” said UTSVT president Neda Abdul-Razzak, a mechanical engineering and psychology senior. “We are all hoping to finish first place, though completing the car in and of itself is extremely rewarding.”

Ten teams participated in the race. It kicked off with “scrutineering” of the solar cars. The cars need to pass a strict set of regulations in order to enter the car into the race. The winner of the race was determined by the most laps completed over a three-day racing period.


The winner of the Formula Sun Grand Prix 2013 was Oregon State University with their solar car “Pheonix” completing 193 laps in the three day period. Second place was Illinois State University’s solar car “Mercury IV”which completed 192 laps. Iowa State University’s “Hyperion” came in third place with 191 laps. The fastest timed lap went to “Hyperion” also.


University of Texas at Austin’s car the “TexSun” came in eighth place. Students plan to make bigger and better solar cars next year.

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

One Comment

  1. jerry johnson

    What I would like to see is a Solar Powered Golf cart. Something that would get a top speed of 35 mph. But a system to rechard it continuously. Now that would be something.

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