Fort Worth to Waco

Day one of the road portion of the race began hazy and early at a high school in Fort Worth, TX. While the solar car was charging the team captains explained the plan for the day. Thanks to a late night scouting run revealing construction and hills on the beginning of the course, the captains decided to trailer for the first nine miles.

Speedometer still not repaired, Ben Conser had to drive the car based on electrical data from the telemetry systems, which collect and communicate data with Albert Emanuel Milani, our electrical expert and energy manager. The drivers thought this was a challenging task on the track, but on the road with bumps, hills, and semi’s traveling 75 mph it was even more difficult.

Ben driving the car

A highlight for the day occurred during Ben’s run. While cruising along the highway at 23 mph, two cars approached from the rear. The shoulder was too small to pull over and ride on, so the other cars had to wait to pass. They must have been in a real hurry because they illegally passed us in the center turning lane. Little did they know, an unmarked police car was driving on the other side of the road at that very moment. The officer turned around, switched on his lights and flew passed the team in hot pursuit. Two minutes later we legally passed the two locals who had been pulled over by the police officer. As we passed, the enraged women in the first car offered rather vulgar hand gestures to the team. The incident provided fantastic entertainment for the entire team and the race official in our chase vehicle.

After two hours of driving, and trailering up large hills, it was time for a driver change. Soham Bharne took the wheel and drove almost continuously for two hours as the terrain flattened. Sean Kennedy was the final driver of the pre-lunch run who drove for another two hours over a rough road. When we stopped at Hard Eight’s Texas style barbecue in Stephensville for lunch at 3:30, the car had attained about 75 miles.

After a delicious lunch, the team trailered to the drop point 20 miles away where Michael Horbowy began his drive. It was already 4:30 and we could only drive until 5:05. In a race to cover as many miles as possible, Albert Emanuel had Mike drive at a slightly higher speed. During this short duration, the team trailered up one steep hill and raced along going 35 mph on down hills.

In total, the solar car drove roughly 90 miles today, and the gaps between second, third, fourth, and fifth places have closed considerably. It’s going to be a close race tomorrow as team’s barrel from Waco to Austin.

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