By Jessica Lee
Recently, we participated in both the 2021 Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) and American Solar Challenge (ASC) racing events.
As mentioned previously, FSGP is a three day track competition which serves as a qualifying event for ASC. Since we participated with Zephyr – our 10th generation vehicle – we competed in the Single Occupant Vehicle class, and ranking was determined by the number of laps completed. On July 30th, Zephyr got off to a slow start, completing over 25 laps with Annie Wang as our driver. The following day, after solving a short mechanical issue, the team recovered, completing 74 laps in total. This meant that to qualify for ASC, there were only 50 laps left to be completed on the third day. After finishing our third and final race day on August 1st, our team had completed 190 total laps, making us eligible to participate in ASC as well as placing us 5th overall!
Though the solar car runs on the sun, we were at a motorsports park which features some high-octane stations.
Work happens whenever people are awake!
Our brakes test went swimmingly!
In the scrutineering bay, prepping to be inspected.
Roll cage modifications in progress!
Morning charge, Day 3, FSGP 2021
Driver Erik Francis awaits directions to be guided out of the garage.
Inspections of our mechanical construction of the vehicle.
Not hot pit. Cool pit.
Media member William Ang snaps a shot of Zephyr on the track.
Zephyr crosses the FSGP finish line.
Hammering out final modifications. Pictured: Thomas Rich (left) and Michael Jia (right)
Zephyr & the team at the Heartland Motorsports Park after qualifying for ASC 2021!
As for ASC, they partnered with the National Park Service this year to commemorate the Santa Fe Trail – the route spanning from Independence, MO to Las Vegas, NM. As opposed to FSGP, the winner of ASC is determined by the total elapsed time it takes to complete this predesignated course. Starting the race on August 3rd, a couple days after the completion of FSGP, we set off in Zephyr through the checkpoint at Council Grove, Kansas and ended the day by completing a challenge loop in McPherson! On the second day, we managed over 200 miles, starting from exiting Dodge, Kansas to enter into Colorado. The following day consisted of a drive to Trinidad, where we trailered over the Raton Pass, and concluded our journey in Las Vegas, NM. The race ended with a final loop to Santa Fe, NM and back to Las Vegas, where our team finished in 6th. Considering all of the technical difficulties that were encountered during the race, we know what areas we need to take a look at and anticipate to improve at the next FSGP and ASC!
Hard at work with strategy and telemetry. Pictured: Yousuf Abubakr, Alec Dughi.
ASC display day picture; August 2, 2021.
Sometimes debugging and discussions happen on the side of the road. Here we see our driver egressing from the vehicle to catch a quick break. Pictured: Thomas Rich (left) and Annie Wang (flying).
Tire change in rural Kansas, Day 1, ASC 2021
Evening solar charging at Midway Motors in McPherson, KS. The morning and evening charges are critical to race performance, as solar cars need every bit of energy they can get to drive long distances during the day!
Loading into the trailer for fast transportation. There were a few mandatory trailer segments due to construction at the tail end of the second stage (Day 4).
Zephyr exiting the Las Vegas High School lot on the final day of ASC 2021.
Crossing the ceremonial finish line!
Left to Right: Ray Altenberg, Eatone Cheng, Alexander Zerkle, and Bryan Lim pose with Zephyr
The team celebrates after the ASC finish line.