Bask in the Glory

Solar Car Club joins twenty five other teams in a race across the country, places sixth overall


Lance Still, reporter

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drive the future, Solar Car Club gets to do just that. In the burning summer heat of 2018, a group of twelve student engineers worked together to try and make the best solar powered car for the annual solar car competition. The solar car challenge is a STEM project to help motivate students with science engineering and alternative energy sources. This program started as an additional program then it soon turned into The Solar Car Challenge. There are multiple things the team has to do in competition, one of the things they do is have the team race at the Texas Motor Speedway. Second the team competes in a cross country event to let the team show off their magnificent car to the world.
When we asked how it felt to be in the solar Car challenge “Empowering,” senior Savannah Brazell said. “You don’t see many girls in engineering these days. It felt really special being one of the only girls in the challenge.”
People started signing up in 2017 but the race started July 17, 2018. In the race there were 26 teams competing. And out of those 26 teams, we got 6th place. The team had thought they’d get in the top 10, because in past competitions they’ve always been in top 10.
“Of course we’d prefer to get 1st place,” Coach Travis Claypool said. “It’s not about getting 1st place, it’s about pushing yourself and your engineering skills to the max.” The length of the cars is 3.9m, width is 1.27m, and height is a solid 1.2m. Without a driver the car weighed 275 kg or around 606 lbs. The car was placed in a certain class category to be able to compete in the challenge.

“We couldn’t put just anyone in the car,” senior Ryan Vazquez said. “They had to weigh a certain amount to keep the weight right for the car.” The car had four Chrome LP12-35 batteries that weigh 24.7 lbs in total, 35Ah per battery.
The model was a Sanyo HIT Power 200 panels but only had a total of 6 panels. One thing all cars need is brakes and their solar car had Hydraulic Disk Brakes for the front and the rear. The motor they had was a Perm Motor PMG 132 19.1 hp. It took them to finish the whole car and after all that work they had the Dante 2.0.
“It took us about a week to finish,” Vazquez said. “The best part was beating some of the other teams.”
But when our team saw the other models of different class categories, it was very inspiring to see the different models and designs the other teams had thought of for their car, and thought of implementing the design.
“I would absolutely be interested in another competition, as much as you’re competing against everyone, you’re also competing against yourself,” Claypool said. “When in competition, the thing that blinds people is trying to get in 1st or 2nd place, but really it’s about challenging yourself and your engineering skills.”