Friday, July 25, 2008

Race wrap-up!

Well in my last post I promised a quick update on the events surrounding the last day of the race, but it just seemed that my lack of sleep had finally caught up with me, for that is all I did whenever I had free time at the hotel. Well now we’re on the road again, halfway through Wisconsin on our way back to Lexington. But now, I’m just going to recap the events from last Tuesday on.

Being the last day of the race leaving from Medicine Hat, the whole team was very excited to get started on the last day of our long journey. It was a relatively short leg, being less than 200 miles long, but there were some factors that made it seem quite longer. Early into our last leg from Medicine Hat, the rear window of our lead vehicle just shattered. Being one of the two people in the back seat, it gave us quite a start. We supposed it could have been caused by the passing 18-wheeler, but we didn’t care to bother pondering that too much, we just pushed all the broken glass into the trunk and got on our merry way.

Being in the back seat without a rear window did have its benefits, such as an unobstructed view of the solar car so that I can take this nice picture! Solar car meets oil derrick…

We then swapped out Scott for my turn to drive. Figuring that Nick got the starting line, Scott got the Canadian border, it seemed reasonably fair for me to take the finish line. But before I got in, I made sure that I brought my camera to take some action shots while I still had a chance.

Another troublesome part of our drive was the strong headwind that we had to plow through. To put the importance of aerodynamics of a solar car into perspective, we were driving around 30 mph in the middle of a blazing noon sun. Without the wind, we would either be charging our battery or we could choose to go faster, but on this day, we were actually wasting a significant amount of our battery power.

After dealing with that trouble, new problems lay ahead of us. We were approaching the edge of the city of Calgary, under an overcast sky, in the middle of rush hour, and we had less than 45 minutes to cross the finish line. We had a completely drained battery pack from the day’s drive, so we had no other choice but to trailer the last 20 miles. Unpacking the car right at the edge of the finish line, we were able to cross the line with just three minutes left to spare! Having to put the car into the trailer for the last 20 miles was certainly a damper on our spirits, we were really hoping to be able to make it, but crossing the finish line completely alleviated those feelings. We were done!

On Wednesday, we attended the awards ceremony that was hosted by the University of Calgary and the Calgary Zoo. We got a nice lunch, and all the teams got a chance to trade each other’s team shirts. I got two Calgary shirts and a Michigan shirt, a very good haul! Then we got a chance to explore the zoo, which, of course, was a ton of fun!

But now, like I said, we are in Wisconsin, about 100 miles away from Madison, our intended stop tonight. We have been driving nonstop since 1:00 pm yesterday. We intended on stopping for the night in North Dakota, but then we learned the hard way that there are not many motels where we drove though. So we’ve been on a nap/drive rotation that has worked pretty well, but such driving is pretty taxing and we don’t want to do that for the full 32 hours it takes to get from Calgary to Lexington. We hope to get back on the road early tomorrow morning so that we can get back in the early afternoon.


deborah said...

Love the flamingos!
Home safe at last!

Debbie said...

Hi Mark,
I read about your solar car in the paper a few weeks back. I am organizing a CLEAN ENERGY RALLY Tuesday Aug. 19th at 6:00 pm and would love it if you could show off your car at that time. is sponsoring this rally all over the country in 130 locations.

Please contact me at 859-278-1965

DIY dream car said...

Wow, so surprise solar car

DIY dream car said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DIY dream car said...

hi,do you like to post your article on my website?
i like your solar car very much,
more and more people learn your solar car, if you agree