College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota
College of Science and Engineering

University of Minnesota team wins solar car race

Solar vehicle wins race photo - 300

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team had one of the fastest laps at 1 minute and 24 seconds.


Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,, (612) 626-7959

Preston Smith, University News Service,, (612) 625-0552

Team completes 512 miles powered only by the sun

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (05/09/2011) —The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team came away with a first-place finish in the 2011 Formula Sun Grand Prix this past weekend at the famous “Brickyard” track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The American Solar Challenge event was part of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With its latest solar-powered car, named Centaurus II, the team of students from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering completed 569 laps on the .9-mile track (512.1 miles total) throughout the three-day, 23-hour race. This was 39 laps more than the second-place finisher Illinois State University. Northwestern University placed third. Ten solar car teams from across the country participated in the event this year.

The University of Minnesota team ran one of the fastest laps at 1 minute and 24 seconds. The Minnesota team was also the first team to meet all the requirements of inspection and received the pole position for the start of the race. In addition, team member Nick LaMoore, a first-year student in mechanical engineering, was one of only four students to receive the race’s Spirit Award because of the help he provided to the Michigan State team to qualify for the race by working with them on their car’s mechanical system.

“We knew we had a reliable car going into the race, and we were happy that we were able to stay out on the track during the entire race,” said student team leader Jonathan Nutzmann, a junior majoring in electrical engineering. “Our team’s great drivers were a big reason we won. We specifically designed our car so it can fit any team member. We take a hit on aerodynamics, but the payoff is that we can have the best driver out there, not just one that is small enough to fit in the car.”

Over the next year the University of Minnesota team will focus its efforts on designing and building the team’s next-generation, completely solar-powered car, Centaurus III, the 10th car in the team’s 21-year history.

The Solar Vehicle Project team is funded by generous private donations from corporations and individuals. Major sponsors include 3M, Altium, Cirrus Aircraft, Delta Air Lines, PaR Systems, Caterpillar, Earle M. Jorgensen Company, University of Minnesota Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, and General Plastics.

For more information about the Solar Vehicle Project team, visit their website at

On July 1, 2010 the Institute of Technology changed its name to the College of Science and Engineering.