Tomorrow begins the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), North America’s premier annual solar car race. We’re excited to be competing and wanted to briefly explain what FSGP is.
The three-day, track-based solar car race is preceded by three days of scrutineering, an intense process of ensuring every car is safe to race and compliant with regulations. This time can be as stressful as race days for teams as they work to fix last-minute issues and pass every test. The most visibly exciting test is dynamics— a station where cars and drivers must complete a figure eight, u-turn, slalom course and brake test to ensure that the vehicles are ready for whatever the track race and following road race will throw at them.
When teams have passed the scrutineering process, the FSGP track race begins. Teams aim to complete the most laps in the eight hours allotted for driving every day. The first day runs from 10:00AM-6:00PM, and the next two days run 9:00AM-5:00PM to total 24 driving hours. With no lunch break on the schedule, teams strategize pit stops and driver changes to make the most out of the race’s 24 hours of driving. Driving is rough on the body. Cars with no air conditioning driving in the summer sun get hotinside very quickly, and it is important to keep drivers fed and hydrated.
Every solar car team must keep their drivers and cars in top condition to maximize their lap count for each day, pulling the car into the pit— where quick repairs like tire changes and driver swaps are made—when necessary. The goal for many teams is to complete enough laps to qualify for the American Solar Challenge, a cross-country road race which immediately follows FSGP.
We can’t wait to race tomorrow and will be sharing details throughout!
By Emma Shearin