American Solar Challenge drives through area

Logan Dailey/Torrington Telegram The University of Minnesota team in the American Solar Challenge stopped at the Western Travel Terminal in Torrington Monday to conduct diagnostic evaluation and maintenance before continuing on their journey to Twin Falls, Idaho.

TORRINGTON – Motorists and pedestrians observed a series of futuristic-looking vehicles drive through the area Monday and Tuesday. The vehicles and teams were competitors in the 2022 American Solar Challenge (ASC).

“The American Solar Challenge is (ASC) is a multi-day, 1,500 to 2,000 mile cross-country endurance rally across North America,” according to Americansolarchallenge.org. “The event is typically held every other year during the summer and is open to collegiate level solar car teams from countries all over the world. The routes have varied greatly over the course of the event’s rich history, but they are always designed to provide teams with a great opportunity to demonstrate their solar cars under real world driving conditions and thoroughly test the reliability of all onboard systems.”

Rachel Craig, a University of Minnesota electrical engineer student, told the Telegram there are 23 competitors competing in this year’s event. The event started with a track race at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas where they raced around a 2.5-mile road course.

“There were 10 teams to compete after the road course,” Craig said. “There are four multiple occupant vehicles and six single occupant vehicles on the road.”

The challenge is divided into two classes, single-occupant and multiple-occupant classes. Craig’s team is operating as a multiple-occupant team, as the car seats two people.

This year’s challenge follows the Oregon Trail National Historic Trail, beginning in Independence, Missouri, driving through Topeka, Kansas, Grand Island, Nebraska, Gering Nebraska, Casper, Lander, Montpelier, Idaho, Pocatello, Idaho and finishing in Twin Falls, Idaho.

While traveling, the vehicles have to stay in a convoy with their support vehicles, Craig explained. Being as the cars are “experimental,” they are not fully road legal and are operating under a research and experimentation provision.

To learn more about this event, visit americansolarchallenege.org.

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