HILL COUNTRY, Texas — Solar racing is what Houston, Mississippi does best!
The Houston Solar Car team held an unofficial 160-mile lead in a race that today will only be 150 miles from Waco to Austin.
“I am so proud of this team, this car, our instructors and sponsors,” said Kristen Black, Houston Solar Car Captain. “This car has run so, so very well. Everything has come together and we are racing very, very well.”
The Houston Solar Car began their day in Waco and will head south to Austin for the final day of racing. The teams will finish the race this afternoon. Final results and an official winner will be announced at the Solar Car Challenge Banquet tonight in Austin.
Black, a third-year veteran of the Houston Solar Car team, said she didn’t want to jinx the team and said they would remain focused on racing hard and getting to Austin as quickly and safely as possible. She did say, barring a massive breakdown or accident, the team is on pace to win it all.
This would be the 14 consecutive first place finish for the Houston Solar Car.
The community is being urged to contact racers via their phone after 5 p.m. to find out race results. A list of Houston Solar Car racers can be found in this article.
The Houston Solar Race team took the closed circuit portion of racing this week and headed out on the road race to Austin Wednesday morning.
The Houston team had 285 laps and a top speed of 44.6 mph on the last day of racing on the Texas Motor Speedway. They were followed by the veteran team from Walnut, Texas with 232 laps and a top speed of 24.9 mph. According to Solar Car Challenge calculations, the Sundancer was 64.5 miles in front of their nearest competitor in closed circuit racing.
Road racing from Fort Worth to Waco began Wednesday.
So far the Houston Solar Car has been working without a major incident. The team did get four penalty points in one day of racing earlier this week.
The trailer hauling the Sundancer solar car had a blow-out on the way to Texas last week but it was quickly fixed in NASCAR fashion by the pit crew and adults. The team considered it practice for solar racing.
Houston’s Solar Car Team has won the Solar Car Challenge the last 13 years and is the perennial favorite to win the race. The car from Chickasaw County does it with planning, teamwork and a mechanically-sound car.
Twenty-five teams – a competition record – entered the race this year that started at 9 a.m. Monday at Texas Motor Speedway.
This year’s race was a new format called hybrid racing that saw two days of closed circuit racing and two days of road racing.
Sundancer has traditionally done well on the paved NASCAR speedway where consistency pays off. Sundancer is also know for racing hard on the road where the pitcrew is often called to jump in and fix flats and mechanical breakdowns.
The Houston Solar Car team started winning the event more than a decade ago when only a limited number of schools were racing. Higher gasoline prices and a general trend toward “green” energy have sparked an interest in developing solar-powered vehicles.
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.
The 2014 Houston Solar Car Team is: Kristen Black, Allyson Taylor, Cody Gordillo, Malik Lawrence, Matthew Hood, Greg Hollingsworth, Zack Mixon, Hayden Powell, Jackson Whitt and college intern Jacob Bridgman.
2014 Houston Solar Car instructors/advisors are: Keith Reese, BB Turman, Anita Ellison, Donna Turman.
The Sundancer solar car is sponsored by the Houston School of Science and Technology.