Solar Car Racing at Circuit of the Americas

Formula Sun Grand Prix

What: See solar cars compete head-to-head on the race track!
Where: 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd. Austin, TX, 78617
When: July 19th, 9 AM - 5 PM
Who can come: You! This event is free and open to the public.

23 universities are participating, 22 of which are using solar panels made by SunPower, one of the main event sponsors. Students built and will race the cars.

Join us at Circuit of the Americas and keep an eye out for the SunPower table, where Circular Energy will be sharing information about solar and signing up homeowners for solar assessments with a design consultant.


Our visit in 2013!!

A really fun event is occurring at the Circuit of the Americas tomorrow: the Formula Sun Grand Prix 2013 and the best part is that public entry is free!

The race - or rayce - as they call it ;o) consists of three 8 hour racing days. The objective is for the teams to complete the most laps within that time period.  The cars charge up their batteries the afternoon before and then run the entire next day on the batteries, as well as any other solar energy they soak up while racing.

Universities and colleges have sponsored teams for the last year to completely design, build and test their prototypes.  And it all culminates in these three days of racing.

According to the webpage, the last two days have been open for public viewing but we had to show the webpage to the security guard and have him talk to his manager before we were allowed in!  They were all very friendly and nice, but we were obviously the first spectators to come!

The cars take around 5 minutes to traverse the entire 3.4 mile track, and there are a maximum of ten cars entered into the race.

Although we went today, the big public viewing day is tomorrow from 9am - 5pm.  

There will be displays and talks about alternative energy as well as a workshop where kids can build a model solar car. 

The teams will be available to answer questions and for autographs!  These are a bunch of college kids, so they are really fun and easy to talk to!

It was really neat to see the various designs of solar cars and to cheer when the UT car went by!  

Here are some of the things we learned:

* An average solar car can run for around 120 miles on just a battery charge, and around 200 miles if it is running in the sun.  

* The maximum speed allowed for the cars is 65 mph, though most cars were going much slower.  The whole project is a balance of energy usage! 

*Teams run from around 15 persons to as large as 100, though most of these teams seemed around the 15-20 person mark.

*Yesterdays winning car completed a total of 66 laps or 224 miles!

Even if you aren't all that into cars, this is a really fun race to see.  

And a great opportunity to see the Circuit of the Americas at its lowest cost: free! 

Although we didn't make it up there, they do offer tower tours for $15 per adult, and $12.50 per child, which sounds like a lot of fun, and a great view!

Check it out!!

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