American Solar Challenge Construction Progress

As I watch the lead-up to the American Solar Challenge next July, the chart above (click to zoom) shows the teams currently registered, with my estimate of current construction progress (based on a combination of social media reports and official paperwork). Team colours in the chart are my best guess in some cases. The University of Minnesota (Team 35) is in the lead (with an existing car and with most of the race paperwork done). Among teams building new cars, Italian team Onda Solare (559) and Canadian team Poly Montreal (55) lead the pack.

My ASC race information page will be updated from time to time with information on the progress of these and all the other teams. It also decodes the team numbers.


Render of Esteban9, the solar car being built by Polytechnique Montréal (picture credit)


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Solar cars – From the Outback to the Oregon Trail

As I watch the lead-up to the American Solar Challenge next July, above are the entries that previously raced in the World Solar Challenge in Australia last year. Left to right from the top, they are Michigan (came 2nd), Iowa State University / PrISUm (raced in the Cruiser class), Western Sydney (came 6th), Illini (participated in the Adventure class), Principia (raced, but trailered after 2390 km), and Minnesota (raced in the Cruiser class).

Several different approaches are visible here to building a car for both races. It’s easier to do so in the Cruiser class, for a start. Illini chose to build their car for the ASC and race it non-competitively in Australia. Principia built their car for both events (unveiling it at FSGP 2017). Michigan and Western Sydney built their cars specifically for the WSC, and may have to adapt the cars for the American race (last ASC, Michigan had to modify their car, and then incurred a daily 6-minute race penalty because the modifications made the car too wide).

My ASC race information page will be updated from time to time with information on the progress of these and all the other teams.


American Solar Challenge status check

Just a quick status check on the lead-up to the American Solar Challenge next July. As my race information page indicates, we still have 39 solar car teams from 8 countries registered. But when we check the status of pre-race documents due last December, another story emerges:

The histogram is tri-modal. First, there is a group of 21 teams that are on schedule, or close to it. Most of them also show good signs of progress on social media. Then there are 12 teams that are well behind schedule. And finally, there are 6 teams that have submitted almost none of the required documents, raising serious doubts as to whether they will actually turn up.

My race information page will be updated from time to time with information on the progress of these teams. In July, I plan to blog about the race itself.


Model of the Italian Cruiser-class entry (picture credit)


Upcoming solar car races for 2018


photo: Anthony Dekker

I am aware of four major solar car races this year (not including the Japanese races):


photo: SASOL Solar Challenge


American Solar Challenge: 6 months to go

Scrutineering for the 2018 American Solar Challenge starts on July 6. The chart below summarises the 39 solar car teams from 8 countries which have registered for the race. Many of them are frantically building or modifying cars – see my race information page. The race will run through the mountains from Omaha, Nebraska to Bend, Oregon. Follow the leadup to the race here and on the official ASC Facebook at  


American Solar Challenge: 8 months away

The American Solar Challenge will be held next July, and I have put together an annotated teams list for that event. Following qualification at Motorsport Park Hastings, Nebraska, the race will run through the mountains from Omaha, Nebraska to Bend, Oregon. The map above shows the approximate route on an elevation map of the northwest US. It will be interesting to see how the solar cars cope with the uphill climb


Congratulations, Toronto!


Toronto’s solar car Horizon comes 12th in the 2015 World Solar Challenge (my photo)

The Blue Sky Solar Racing team from the University of Toronto ( ) had their 20th anniversary on November 18th last year. The video below celebrates their two decades of solar car racing. Congratulations, guys!