Taking place in Topeka, Kansas, from June 27 through July 2 at Heartland Motorsports Park, this year’s Electrek Formula Sun Gran Prix puts an international group of 22+ school’s solar vehicle teams against each other in an on-track race.
The solar cars will be on the track June 30, 10 am to 6 pm, and July 1-2, 9 am to 5 pm, completing as many laps as possible on solar power. Admission is free, and we will be there. Join us!
EVs, solar, batteries, engineering, college teams, racing… This is what we’re about at Electrek. That’s why we’re sponsoring the event along with Blue Origin, Heartland Motor Sports, and more to come.
But it isn’t just us that keeps a close eye on these solar racers. It is important to note that EV, battery, and solar companies, including Tesla, carefully watch these events as well.
In fact, Tesla’s cofounder and former CTO (and possible future board member) JB Straubel participated in Stanford’s Solar Car team and noted (starting at about 11 minutes in the video below):
“Solar car team’s technologies are often ahead of their time in term of looking at next best generation of batteries, best solar panels, best motors and converters, things like that…Most of my involvement with the solar car team was toward the end of my stay at Stanford. I had many friends that were part of that team throughout my time there and I recruited most of the people from the team, and we started Tesla. It was a key thing at the beginning of Tesla.”
Of course, Tesla and other EV automakers and solar/battery firms are still recruiting from these teams:
“I think it matters more than most classes you can take. I mean it’s one of things that even today at Tesla we look at resumes and we consider higher than GPAs and perhaps even higher than what classes they decided here and there.”
We’ll have more information as race time nears. Keep an eye on the website as well.
Starting June 27, the solar cars will begin scrutineering – a series of inspections – including mechanical and electrical systems, body & sizing, dynamic testing, and more. Teams that pass ‘scrutineering’ will then put their solar cars to the test in the 3-day track event, running June 30-July 2 with 24 total hours of drive time (three 8-hour days) on solar power. Teams are given defined morning and evening charging hours to recharge the solar car’s batteries with the car’s solar array. The Formula Sun Grand Prix is much more about reliability, adjusting for weather conditions, and strategic energy management than raw speed, though that doesn’t mean teams won’t also go for the bragging rights of fastest lap!
Innovators Educational Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that organizes solar car events in the United States, including the American Solar Challenge (road event) and the Formula Sun Grand Prix (track event), to provide hands-on, multi-disciplined learning opportunities for college students. The Formula Sun Grand Prix is not in any way associated or affiliated with the Formula 1 companies, FORMULA 1 racing, or the FIA Formula One World Championship.
If you or your company would like to chip in on this event or get more info, contact Gail Lueck, event director, at [email protected]