Solar Race - North American Solar Challenge

First I think these things are great as it highlights the science of alternate energy.

Problem is the news makes the public think you can slap a few sq feet of solar cells on you car and you are all set.

As most of us here know these are very specialized cars that are very light weight and of very little use for day to day driving. In fact they would not be legal on any road in America and for the race they have escorts.

Here are a few quotes from some press releases about the recent solar race.

Note that it is OK to trailer the car at times but a time penalty is added for trailing.

Quotes start here -----

The 2008 NASC pits college students from across North America against each other to design the best solar car to travel from Texas to Canada in 10 days.
The kick-off was Sunday in Plano, Texas, and will end 2,400 miles later in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on July 22.
The race is scheduled similarly to the Tour de France with stages and checkpoints.
Competitors will travel mainly on U.S. Highway 75 and Canadian Highway 1.
Schools from all over the United States and Canada-- 24 to be exact-- created their own solar cars to compete this year

The original car weighed close to 1,000 pounds, and the solar cells covering its shell couldn’t generate enough juice to keep the car moving.
Gato del Sol III weighs 640 pounds, including a 180-pound driver and 70 pounds of batteries, Hatfield said.
The new car also includes higher-efficiency solar cells and a computer monitoring system that tells the team when to slow down to conserve
energy and when they can cruise at the maximum-allowed speed of 55 miles per hour.

The one-seater generates 1,200 watts of electricity from 468 solar cells

Pillay pointed out that Calgary’s team, like PrISUm, had to tow its car when cloud cover was heavy in the early stages of the race.
She said the reason leading teams didn’t have to “trailer” – which is legal but incurs a time penalty – was because they were able
to get ahead of the weather, not because of any superior technology.

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