News Service


Jeff Lanning, Team PrISUm, (515) 572-2396 or 294-0899
Allen Ihlefeld, Team PrISUm, (515) 233-2638 or 294-0899
Herb and Esther Harmison, Ames, (515) 292-7059
Arianna McKinney, News Service, (515) 294-6881


AMES, Iowa -- Herb Harmison, a retired Iowa State University engineering placement director, and his wife, Esther, have volunteered to give Iowa State's solar car team a strategic boost.

During a recent presentation to an ISU Retirees meeting, Jeff Lanning, Team PrISUm's strategy team leader, said what would help the team most would be to have the time and money to drive and video record the race route for Sunrayce 99 prior to the event. Sunrayce is a biennial North American solar car race that is open to college and university students.

The Harmisons volunteered to drive and videotape the entire race route, which stretches 1,300 miles from Washington, D.C., to the Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla.

The Harmisons understand the importance of strategy in a race. "Our son is a sports car racer," Herb Harmison said. "When he comes to an unfamiliar track, the first thing he does is walk around it or drive it slowly so he knows where the bumps and curves are."

Team PrISUm is working to get the Harmisons the proper equipment to survey the Sunrayce 99 route, Lanning said.

Some equipment has been donated to the team by Rockwell Collins, a Cedar Rapids-based company, said Allen Ihlefeld, Team PrISUm director. Other items, such as the video camera that will be used, are being modified by Team PrISUm members.

"I was very impressed with the team that's working on the solar car," Esther Harmison said. "They drove out to our house with the video camera suction cupped to the windshield. They video taped the road on the way. I was impressed at what a clear picture the camera gave. There was no jiggling."

The team will use the video of the race route to identify speed zones and stop signs in order to determine at what speeds to run the car during each point of the course. This will help the team optimize the performance of their car, PrISUm Phoenix, Ihlefeld said.

Harmison and his wife will leave March 2 to drive the course. They will return the videotapes to Team PrISUm for analysis. Sunrayce 99, which avoids interstates, will take the solar car team nine days to complete (June 20-29). The Harmisons hope to complete it in three or four days. They plan to visit their son, who lives in Naples, Fla., after completing the course.

"We haven't driven along the East Coast very often," Herb Harmison said. "We'll be driving places we haven't much seen. It'll be all paved roads but roads that the locals travel rather than the tourists, so it will be more fun."


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