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Nick Mohr, Team PrISUm, (515) 294-0899
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


The American Solar Challenge (ASC) is a Chicago to Los Angeles race that is designed to advance renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies, promote educational and engineering excellence, encourage environmental consciousness and teach teamwork.

American Solar Challenge will be held July 15-25 and will cover 2,300 miles, making it the longest solar car race ever attempted.

The race begins at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, just south of downtown. It will end in downtown Claremont, Calif., (near Los Angeles) roughly 2,300 miles away. Check points along the way include Springfield, Ill.; Rolla, Mo.; Neosho, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla.; Edmond, Okla.; Amarillo, Tex.; Tucumcari, N.M.; Gallup, N.M.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Kingman, Ariz.; and Barstow, Calif.

Forty to 60 solar car racing teams are expected to participate in the American Solar Challenge. These will include various university teams, companies and clubs worldwide. Overseas participants expected to race include groups from Germany, Italy, England, Australia and Japan.

Racing hours:
On days with staged starts -- Chicago, Rolla, Mo., and Barstow, Calif. -- race times are from 9 a.m. to 6-6:30 p.m. (depending on official start time). On days with non-staged starts, race days begin at 8 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.

The winner of the race is the team with the lowest cumulative elapsed time in completing the entire race course.

Sunlight is the only external source of power allowed for propulsion.

Unlike past Sunrayces, where all teams were required to start and stop each race day at the same location, the ASC will have only two mandatory stop/start locations. They are Rolla, Mo., on day 2 (July 16) and Barstow, Calif., on day 10 (July 24).

There are two classes of cars, stock class and open class. Stock class cars follow strict rules regulating the types of technologies they can use, like in the solar cells and battery systems. The open class allows teams to use a wider range of technologies and capabilities. Iowa State's PrISUm Odyssey car will race in the open class.

The race course will be run along secondary highways, including roads that follow the path along Route 66.

All rules of the road and courtesies -- including speed limits, stop signs and lights, and yield signs -- must be obeyed and exercised.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Washington, D.C.; DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory Golden, Colo.; EDS Troy, Mich.; and Terion Inc., Melbourne, Fla.

Iowa State qualified their car for the American Solar Challenge during the Formula Sun race, which was May 7-11. The team may use a different battery technology for the American Solar Challenge. If they switch batteries, they will re-qualify their car at the Gingerman Raceway, South Haven, Mich., July 11-13, just prior to the ASC. To qualify, every team must pass an inspection process called "scrutineering" and race their car for 125 miles with an average speed of 25 mph.

Iowa State in previous solar car races:
In Sunrayce 90 , Iowa State finished 17th in a field of 32 cars; race winner was the University of Michigan.
In Sunrayce 93, ISU finished 10th of 36 cars; Michigan was winner.
In Sunrayce 95, ISU finished 19th of 38 cars; MIT was winner.
In Sunrayce 97, ISU finished 27th of 36 cars; California State-Los Angeles was winner.
In Sunrayce 99, ISU finished 5th of 29 cars; University of Missouri-Rolla was winner. ISU captured the pole position for this race.

Iowa State is one of only a few universities to have raced in all of the major U.S. solar car races.


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