July 18, 2005

North American Solar Challenge begins

Austin, Texas – The eleven-day North American Solar Challenge (NASC) kicked off yesterday, with 20 vehicles racing 4,023 km from Austin, Texas to Calgary, Alberta.

The race is the world’s longest solar car contest, and the first to include the crossing of an international border. Sponsors include Natural Resources Canada, the University of Calgary, Manitoba Transportation and Government Services, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The University of Minnesota, with its seventh-generation solar vehicle, had the best qualifying time in the May qualifying event in Kansas and will start first, with the other cars following at one-minute intervals in order of their qualifying times.

To qualify to compete in the NASC, each team had to drive its solar car at least 201 km on a track, at an average speed of at least 40 km/h.

In September, Australia will host the eighth World Solar Challenge, in which cars race more than 3,000 km from Darwin to Adelaide.

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