HOUSTON – The Sundancer car repeated its 13th consecutive victory in the annual Solar Challenge and the Houston Solar Race Team left as much on the road as they brought home.
The team, competing in the Open division, faced only one challenger from Walnut, Calif., out-running not only them, but every other car in the race in all three divisions.
But the team members are used to making new friends on the road and lending a hand to those in need.
The Solar Challenge awards daily trophies to winners in each division and the Houston team could have brought home seven, but they left three out on the road with teams from Argyle, Texas, Walnut, Calif., and Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.
“We gave the trophies away to teams we thought deserved them for their hard work and dedication mostly,” said Charlsi Allen.
The team donated a trophy to the Walnut, Calif., car due to problems they experienced at the beginning of the race and gave out two more to new friends they met on the road.
“Walnut was the other car in our division that worked so hard and couldn’t get their car to work well,” explained Kristen Black. “Liberty Christian was our best buddy and Grosse Point was a super hard-working team that had some nice members.”
During the awards ceremony, the Houston team was presented the Chris Jones award for the solar car team dispalying the highest level of good sportsmanship.
This year’s team made their first road race together successfully and learned some important life skills.
“It hasn’t been an easy trip,” Franklin said while on the road to 29 Palms, Calif. “Not on the car and there’s been some strain on us as individuals.”
Nine team members traveled with six adults for eight days across four states and the logistics of moving that many people and vehicles is enough without adding on a race.
“Just moving from hotel to hotel and packing and unpacking is tough,” Franklin said.
The team was on the road racing by 9 a.m. each day which meant they were preparing in the early morning hours. After each day’s race came a checklist of items to prepare or repair for the next day’s session.
But they hung together, worked together, raced together and won together, making the 13th National title the Sundancer car brings home to Houston.
By the numbers
Route: Fort Worth, Texas to Los Angeles, Calif.
Driving miles available: 853.5
Miles completed by Sundancer: 791.9
Days on the road: 8
Daily and divison trophy total: 9
Trophies returned to Houston: 6
Trophies presented to fellow racers: 3