"We've been working on our car since the fall of 2017," Okemos (Mich.) Solar Racing Club Captain William Jones said.More than 200 schools are involved in the Solar Car Challenge, putting hours, days, months, and even years into these full-size, street-legal projects, and the 31 at TMS are just those who made the first cut."It's exhilarating. It's insane," said Maynard Reinhardt, captain of the first-year Bath County High School (Ky.) Solar Cats. "Just thinking about the teams that didn't make it here, and this is our first year that we're doing it, and it's just insane to think that we're actually here, and we're actually doing it."Bath County High School in Owingsville, Ky., hasn't been here before. In fact, no school in Kentucky has even tried before."We're representing the entire state of Kentucky, and we're here to do them proud," Reinhardt said.
A walk through the NASCAR garage at TMS shows you other teams like The Winston School out of Dallas. They were part of the first Solar Car Challenge race back in 1995, and they're still wrenching all these years later.Somewhere in between Bath County and The Winston School lie most of the other entries. There are 15 from North Texas alone."It doesn't feel real until you're like, 'Oh wait, other schools are doing this too,' and 'Oh wait, these schools are from way far away,'" said Wylie East Solar Car Team Captain Jaxson Hill. "I guess you could say it makes you feel validated because you know that you're not the only ones who have struggled with motor problems, mechanical issues, and last minute motors blowing up and things like that. It's just a great feeling knowing other teams are doing the same things you are."This weekend is all about passing the judging/qualifying process known as scrutineering.
- Arkansas - LISA Academy North (Little Rock)
- California - Palmdale High School (Palmdale - 2 teams)
- Colorado - Animas High School (Durango)
- Florida - North Tampa Christian Academy (Wesley Chapel)
- Illinois - Pana High School (Pana)
- Kentucky - Bath County High School (Owingsville)
- Oklahoma - Dove Science Academy (Oklahoma City)
- Michigan - Heroes' Alliance (Detroit); Okemos High School (Okemos)
- Missouri - Frontier STEM High School (Kansas City)
- New York - Staten Island Tech High School (Staten Island)
- Washington - Raisbeck Aviation High School (Tukwila)
High school teams began preparation for these yearlong solar car projects during education workshops in September of last year. Additional workshops, on-site visits, mentor opportunities and summer camps helped the projects come to fruition. The teams will compete in four divisions - Classic, Advanced Classic (used their classic car for more than three years), Advanced and Electric-Solar Powered - in the closed circuit race.Science & Technology magazine named the Solar Car Challenge as one of the top Science & Engineering programs in the country.The Solar Car Challenge has 211 high school solar car projects in various stages of development in anticipation of an upcoming solar racing event. Teams are located in 37 states, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.For more information and race updates on the Solar Car Challenge, please visit solarcarchallenge.org.