U of Michigan at 2008 North American Solar Challenge

June 24, 2011 Update: Happy Retirement!!! U of Michigan’s Continuum’s New Home in Retirement


Congratulations to the University of Michigan Solar Car team for winning the 2008 North American Solar Challenge (a 2400 miles race) convincingly in 51 hours 41 minutes 53 seconds (over 10 hours faster than the 2nd place Principia Solar car team).

During my research for writing this blog entry, I found this fascinating 20-page newsletter that gives an insightful look of the Michigan team. It is quite an interesting read.

My blog entry including exclusive video interviews with some of the team members has now been posted. The following are some photos from yesterday. Enjoy.

michigan arrives by DArcy Norman
Michigan team crossing finish line (photo by D’Arcy Norman)
Michigan opens top of car by Iain George
“Michigan opens top of car” – Photo by Iain George
Brooke Bailey being interviewed - University of Michigan at North American Solar Challenge
Brooke Bailey (driver) being interviewed
Inspection of winning car
Inspection of winning car
Brooke Bailey Interview (to be posted soon)
Brooke Bailey (solar car driver)
Chito Garcia interview (to be posted soon)
Chito Garcia (team advisor & mentor)
Chaio-Ting Li interview (to be posted soon)
Chaio-Ting Li (strategy division)
Chuck Hutchins interview (to be posted soon)
Chuck Hutchins (team sponsor)

P.S. Special thanks to Chito for a copy of the Momentum DVD and explaining a few of the technical things about the race and the cars to me.

P.P.S. Again, as part of my research, I found these blog entries about the team’s WSC 2007 race with some spectacular photos (yes, the one they crashed, repaired the car, and caught up to 30 cars).

Here is a longish excerpt from a blog entry “Reflections” by Bob Culver, one of the faculty advisors of the team, that speaks volume (emphasis added),

I often say that the Solar Car experience is a self-awareness or awakening of sorts, allowing students to find their own limits – what they can do and what they cannot do.Well, I was half right.This team was tested often.It started with a structural failure in the bulkhead just a few days before they were scheduled to leave for Australia.The team quickly analyzed and fixed the problem such that the resulting structure was stronger than ever.Then came the dust devil in Australia that almost destroyed the array that you have read about in the blog.And then, of course, was the accident.After a short period of shock and a few tears, the team began the arduous task of rebuilding the front end of Continuum.No one needed any inspirational speeches as everyone was working with determination and purpose as soon as the car was back to the Darwin racetrack.It was truly amazing and inspiring to see the car rebuilt and ready for racing in about 10 hours. [K: What a wonderful team.] This team responded to everything and anything that was thrown at them.So, pardon the double negative, the Continuum team never found out what they couldn’t do!

During the qualifying week, the Continuum team continued the Michigan tradition of helping other teams.The team let the Venezuela team borrow a motor when many of their parts got stuck in customs.And the team, with Chito’s help, built a new wheel hub for the Malaysian team after an accident during a qualifying run destroyed their only hub.What goes around, comes around.At the accident scene, a local Darwin gentleman happened by to see the damage.When he saw the damage, he said he had a friend who was an expert in carbon fiber composites.We called the expert, Mr. Mike Butler, and he joined us back at the racetrack pits.Mike brought with him some fast curing resin which turned out the be critical to getting the repairs done quickly.

I have excerpted quite a bit of the entry so that I can put my emphasis, I hope Bob doesn’t mind.


2 Responses to U of Michigan at 2008 North American Solar Challenge

  1. […] of Calgary at 2008 North American Solar Challenge I have previously blogged briefly of University of Michigan’s win. Here, I would like to congratulate the University of […]

  2. […] My blog entry including exclusive video interviews with some of the team members has now been posted. […]

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