Solar car team racing for 13th consecutive national title.
By Floyd Ingram
HOUSTON – They head to Texas and will race to California with plans to bring home their 13th national title in the Solar Car Challenge.
The Houston Solar Race Team travels to Fort Worth this week to take part in the Solar Car Challenge, having won it for the past 12 years in a row, but the competition has gotten stiffer and this year’s squad has a strategy and a couple of tricks they hope will give them an edge in the race.
“This is a more technical team this year,” said Team Captain Trey Franklin, who has been racing for three years. “We have checked and double-checked everything and are paying more attention to detail.”
This race will see solar car racers from around the country start at the Texas Motor Speedway July 23 and race across West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona on their way to Los Angeles.
Franklin said they have gathered intelligence on their competition and this looks to be one of the toughest fields Sundancer has ever faced.
“There is a new team out of Tyler, Texas, that is supposed to have a very fast car,” said Franklin. “In our division we will be up against a school out of Walnut Valley, Calif., that is supposed to have all new equipment.”
Daniel Worthey, a three-year veteran of solar racing and team crew-chief, said keeping Sundancer rolling at the optimum level is one key to winning.
“We put a lot of time into maintenance each day after everybody else has gone to the hotel,” said Worthey. “This is a road race and it is tougher on the cars because you have bumps, hills and crosswinds.”
Driver Jacob Bridgman, a three-year solar racer and team driver said going easy on the car is critical to success.
“When it breaks or has a flat, it costs you time,” said Bridgman. “If we can find our groove and race the kind of race we want to race, we should do Ok.”
Financial constraints will only allow Houston to enter one team this year in the Open Division.
Houston is not sending a separate girls team this summer. The girl’s team won their division last year with a spectacular last-day finish.
The Houston Solar Car team started winning the event more than a decade ago when only a limited number of schools were racing. This year’s field has 14 teams racing in three divisions.
“There is a lot more interest in solar power and solar energy,” said Franklin. “I do want to thank our sponsors for helping us get a new solar array this year. I especially want to thank the Solar Car Committee and the parents who helped us this year.
The Houston team leaves Thursday for Texas and will check in on Saturday morning. Scrutineering begins Sunday and racing begins Tuesday with the final day on Tuesday, July 30.
The Solar Car Challenge was established in 1993 to help motivate students in science and engineering and to increase alternative energy awareness. The Challenge teaches high school students around the world how to build roadworthy solar cars.
2013 Team Members are: Trey Franklin, Allyson Taylor, Andi Houser, Charlsi Allen, Daniel Worthey, Kristen Black, Jacob Bridgman, Kristen Marsh and Zack Mixon.
2013 Instructors/Advisors; Keith Reese, Anita Ellison, Donna Turman and Patricia Ellison.
Houston Solar Race Team is sponsored by the Houston School of Science and Technology.