The Solar Car Challenge is an annual solar-powered car race for high school students. At the event participate teams from all over the world, but the majority are from American high schools. The first edition of this event took place in 1995.
The race starts at the Texas Motor Speedway, Forth Worth, Texas and the end of the course is different from year to year. From 2002 to 2008, the event was sponsored by the Texas Motor Speedway and in 2010 by Hunt Oil Company.
The purpose of this solar car race is to motivate students in engineering, science, technology and alternative energy. Additionally, the Solar Car Challenge Education Program teaches high school students to engineer, design, build and safely race a solar car. Thus, this event is fun, but also educational, trying to attract students towards science.
The winner will be the team which will drive the most laps accumulated over the four days of racing. A newer rule is to use cheaper conventional motors, less efficient solar cells and less expensive acid batteries. Nonetheless, older teams still use more expensive technology. The new Advanced Division allows teams to use university body molds and different batteries.
Those teams which want to enter the competition have to register their vehicle and demonstrate that their solar car complies with all the rules during a qualifying process. Moreover, each car must have:
- safety harness
- turn signals
- a roll cage
- a fire extinguisher
During the event are available many vehicles and trailers in case there is a breakdown on the track. All the rules are carefully monitored through a wireless computer network. The Solar Car Challenge was considered one of America’s 10 most innovative education programs by Business Wire in 2003 and in 2007 it was featured on CNN affiliate KLTV. The Solar Car Challenge Foundation provides an important international high school solar education program and is one of the most popular events including solar cars.