Solar car to race June 3-5 in Texas

The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team will once again make the trek to Cresson, Texas, for the 2009 Formula Sun Grand Prix. With its latest car, named Centaurus, the students hope to continue the team's past success as one of the most competitive teams in solar racing, with a record that includes 10 top-two finishes and a reputation for sound engineering and reliability.

Solar Car 2009 BThe Formula Sun Grand Prix is a three-day race held on a closed track. Eleven solar car teams from across the country are participating in the event this year. The race was last held in 2005 at the Heartland Park Raceway in Topeka, Kan., where the University of Minnesota solar car Borealis III came away with a decisive first-place finish. Funding problems prevented the race from occurring in 2006-2008, but a renewed interest in the continuation of solar racing has spurred organizers and teams alike to once again participate in the event.

This year's event is at the MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas, a self-proclaimed "Country Club for motoring enthusiasts" that features a 1.7-mile road-style course and beautiful facilities for all of the race's needs. Qualifying and inspections for the 2008 North American Solar Challenge were also held at this location last year, and the team looks forward to returning.

Solar Car 2009 AThe team members who built Centaurus have passed the torch on to a new team of students who, for the past year, have been hard at work designing the University's next-generation car, in addition to making improvements to Centaurus in preparation for the Formula Sun Grand Prix race. In particular, the electronics team has been dutifully searching out every last bug in the car, leading to redesigned power trackers and battery equalization, as well as better software and better protection against EMI.

The team departed Minneapolis on Saturday, May 30 and arrived in Cresson on May 31. Scrutineering occur on June 1 and 2, and the race will be June 3-5, concluding with an awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 5. Follow the students during the race on their Web site blog.

For more information, visit the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project Web site.