CLAREMONT, CALIF. After a shaky start, the University of Missouri-Rolla team crossed the finish line nearly five hours ahead of the pack Wednesday, winning what was billed as the world's longest solar car race.
The Solar Miner IV, overcoming engine trouble during the race's first leg, took the lead in Oklahoma and never relinquished it, completing the American Solar Challenge with an elapsed time of 51 hours, 47 minutes and 37 seconds. The 2,300-mile race, which began July 13 in Chicago, traveled parts of historic Route 66, ending in this small town east of Los Angeles.
"Everybody's thrilled," said Kerry Poppa, 20, an engineering student and spokesman for the team that built the $100,000 vehicle. "It's great to finally be here and see two years of work come to fruition."
The University of Minnesota placed second, and Canada's University of Waterloo was third. The North Dakota State University team placed first in the stock car division, which consists of machines made from off-the-shelf parts.
The University of Missouri finished sixth, at a time of 61 hours, 33 minutes and 50 seconds. Kansas State University finished eighth with a time of 66 hours, 25 minutes.
The 20 cars raced each day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The sun's rays provided the sole source of power, beating down on photovoltaic cells on the surfaces of the wing-shaped, single passenger vehicles.
Engineering student Tim Petro, 21, was in charge of electronics for the $40,000 car entered by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The vehicle was the first the school entered in the race.
"We had a blast," said Petro, whose team placed second to last, according to unofficial results. "We just wanted to qualify and not be last. And I think we did both of those."