The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6, 1990 - Page 3
University team basks in spotlight as...
Sunrunner captures national solar car race
Sunryce finale provided
r' v ^J..1tension ifor3¢Michigan fan S
il to the Victors. The University's Solar Car Team celebrates after winning the GM Sunrayce USA. Holding the
0Yuquet is Project Manager Susan Fancy.
Privers recall race day day
by tan Hoffman
Daily NSE Editor
While Apollo's chariot may be
the world's first solar powered ve-
hicle, it's no longer the most famous.
The University Solar Car Team's
vehicle, Sunrunner, secured first
place in an 1,800 mile cross country
race that propelled them to national
prominence. In the eleventh and fi-
nal stage of the GM Sunrayce USA
event, Michigan finished nearly one
and one-half hours ahead of second
place Western Washington Univer-
sity, July 19.
"Winning this race is great," said
Paula Finnegan, engineering senior
and one of the car's two drivers, as
she was helped out of the cockpit.
"Oh God, I'm incredibly excited
Michigan will join two other top
finishers at the World Solar Chal-
lenge in Australia this November.
General Motors will provide partial
sponsorship for the school's race
"I think we're all very excited to
go to Australia," said Susan Fancy,
project manager and engineering and
LSA senior, who has spent the last
year monitoring all facets of the pro-
ject. Fancy added, "I sure don't feel
relaxed, this is the most intense
morning I've ever had."
Michigan covered the 1,800 mile
course in 72 hours, 50 minutes and
47 seconds. Second through fifth
places, respectively, were: Western
Washington University, 74:10:06;
the University of Maryland,
80:10:55; California State University
at Los Angeles, 81:03:44; and
Crowder College of Neosho, Mis-
The last stage of the race was the
most dramatic, the drivers said. The
chain on Michigan's chain-driven
motor slipped out of gear and had to
be removed by crew members riding
in the team's support vehicle.
"We had to run a half a mile to
get to the car," said Dave Noles,
engineering senior and the car's
other driver. "We were joking on the
way that we should have gone to
crew workouts more often."
Rather than fix the chain, the
crew decided to remove it entirely
and hope that Sunrunner's secondary
motor would be powerful enough to
carry them the 20 final miles to the
finish line at the GM Tech Center in
The decision was potentially haz-
ardous, Noles explained.
"We knew there were some hills,
but we didn't know how steep they
were, because we couldn't get com-
puter readouts for the last day," he
The secondary motor was added
to the design just weeks prior to the
race to give the car an extra boost on
hills. Without two motors, the team
members were not sure it would
complete the final leg of the race.
Sunrunner covered the last 20
miles slowly because of the heavy
traffic caused by spectators, predom-
inately Michigan fans, on the way to
"We were thinking, 'All these
people are our fans, and they're only
slowing us down,"' Noles said.
Though the secondary motor
proved essential on the final day, the
team is debating whether to remove
it in order to take 20 pounds off the
car for Australia's race.
The day after the race, Senator
Carl Levin (D-Michigan) held a
reception for the team. Then the
team packed its bags and headed to
Washington D.C. where they dis-
played their vehicle on the steps of
Capitol Hill before returning last
The team took a few days off
before engaging in a "six to eight
hour jam sesion," Fancy said. She
explained that her team is divided
into eight groups, and each group
will pick three of four areas to
concentrate in order to prepare for
the World Solar Challenge.
More than 100 colleges and uni-
versities submitted applications for
entry into the GM-sponsored race
which began at EPCOT Center in
Orlando, Florida and ended at the
General Motors Technical Center in
Warren, Michigan. GM pared the list
down to 62 proposals designated for
In April, 1989 a final list of32
schools was announced, and Michi-
gan began working on its project in
More than 120 students - from
the business, engineering, art and
LSA schools worked on the project,
making it the largest student-run pro-
ject ever at the University.
Members of the University's So-
lar Car Team and members of other
teams point to a number of reasons
for Michigan's success. But one fac-
tor, money - and lots of it - is
most often credited with securing
victory for the team.
"Michigan was very good at
making decisions, something we had
a little problem with," said Tim
Long race strategist for Maryland's
vehicle, the Pride of Maryland. "But
when you've got $800,000 there
aren't a lot of decisions you need to
make. You can afford just about the
best of everything," he added.
Dave Larson, a race strategist for
Western Washington's Viking XX
summed up the situation similarly.
"I think we were better in direct
sunlight... if it hadn't been so cloudy
the first couple of days, we might
have been in first place. The other
thing is that we built this with only
$130,000. They (Michigan) have a
lot of people and a lot of money."
The estimated total cost, includ-
ing both cash and ifikind donations
of building Sunrunner currently
stands at $800,000 - five or six
times the amount most other schools
spent on their car.
The monetray advantage Michi-
gan enjoyed affected the race in
other ways as well. Unlike most
teams, the Sunrunner crew stayed at
hotels along the race route.
"Some of the teams didn't like it
when we'd pull out at night and head
towards our hotel," Noles said. "A
lot of crews had to camp out every
night. Sometimes, before the race
began, you would go to the bath-
rooms on the fairgrounds where we
were staying, and see guys trying to
clean up in the sinks, before the day
began. They didn't look happy."
by lan Hoffman
'Three days after the University's
Solar Car Team crossed the finish
One of the GM Sunrayce USA -
early two hours ahead of the other
1 schools - the drivers of Sunrun-
nor, Dave Noles and Paula Finnegan,
granted the Daily an exclusive
4ntbrview from a hotel room near
ashington D.C., where the team
pg in town to display their vehicle
e °Capitol Hill.
" ,The two recalled each day of the
, beginning with a social event
Pere different school's solar car
s first came in contact with each
oIter, and ending, 11 days later,
ixen Paula drove the last leg of the
m's 1680 mile journey.
;Thursday, July 5:..
-"'We walked into the room look-
fng pretty sharp in our team uni-
forms. I'm sure we intimidated some
other teams," Finnegan said. The
ichigan team members were intim-
ted themselves when they heard
iking XX, Western Washington's
Tebicle could cruise at 45 m.p.h. -
opsiderably faster than Sunrunner.
-Later, Hans Tholstrop, coordina-
ir of the World Solar Challenge -
ci1 world's premier solar race, ap-
proached the team and asked them a
- "He said, 'So you are Michi-
,' Noles said. "Then he asked us
pw much we weighed. When he
ticrd it was over 500 pounds he told
swe wouldn't win.
2"At the meeting that night we
talked about not being intimidated,
Ot it was hard when the guy who
knows solar cars told us we weren't
ing to win," he said.
}Friday, July 6
P The team was required to prove
ble car met numerous pre-estab-
ished safety standards, before per-
fefining actual driving tests.
"Dave had to slouch down in the
peat to make sure his head was be-
dw the roll bar," Finnegan said. "He
told them, 'This is the way I always
Many of the teams did not pass
Elie safety tests.
"It made us feel better about the
competition because a couple of the
teams didn't even get through quali-
fying," Finnegan said.
Despite not claiming the pole po-
sition, the team was satisfied with
their second place finish. "We
weren't expecting to get a good pole
position because the tests favored
the other smaller, lighter cars,"
Saturday, July 7
More tests were conducted to
make sure the car met required stan-
dards. Among the systems tested
were brake lights, windshield
wipers, and rear view capacity.
"These were long days because
we weren't doing anything,"
"They were rinky dink little
baloney tests," Noles agreed. "We
didn't do much, but we didn't have
Sunday, July 8
Drivers and Managers Meeting
The output of the solar array was
measured by the Department of En-
ergy (DOE) in the morning and later
some members went to Universal
-Studios theme park. The drivers and
Project Manager Susan Fancy at-
tended a meeting with other schools
at 3 p.m.
"It was frustrating because other
schools were asking ignorant ques-
tions that we were asking in Octo-
ber," Noles said. "They wanted to
know stupid things.
"The worst part was, we had to
relive the meeting when the rest of
the team came back because they
didn't go the first time."
EPCOT Center to Floral City,
5th place finish, 5th overall
It was decided that Noles would
drive the first leg. The day began
with a ceremoni i start in Disney-
world. Herby the Love Bug tried to
enter the race, but was stopped after
Mickey Mouse explained to Herby
that the Sunrayce was for solar ve-
When the actual race got under-
way, Noles was a little nervous.
"Here was what 120 people had
given a year of their life for, it was
all in my hands."
Despite minor mistakes the team
finished in fifth place by following
their race strategy - going slowly
and conserving energy because of an
anticipated cloudy charging period
- to a T.
"We used exactly the amount of
energy from our batteries we thought
we would," Noles said. "Our theme
became 'stick to our strategy and not
worry about what other schools are
Floral City to Tallahassee,
3rd place finish, 3rd overall
The day began when leader
Maryland made a U-turn a few miles
into the course. They were the only
team to fully understand the course
changes GM instituted only days
before. Initially all teams but Mary-
land and Cal-State at Los Angeles
(CSLA) were penalized 40 minutes.
Three days later when CSLA admit-
ted to taking the wrong turn as well,
all penalties were dropped and 36
minutes were subtracted from Mary-
land's overall time.
In the middle of the route one of
Sunrunner's tires blew.
"We changed it in only seven
minutes, it was amazingly fast con-
sidering we just decided two days
ago the jobs everyone was going to
do if it happened," Finnegan said.
Michigan was satisfied with third
place, because "all four teams that
were ahead of us after the first day
were behind us," she added.
Tallahassee to Montgomery,
1st place finish, 1st overall
Another day of sun in the morn-
ing and clouds in the afternoon for
the team. When GM race director
Tom Stumpo commented that Paula
carried a lot of clout on the team be-
cause she drove every morning,
Noles commented, "She has all the
clout and I have all the clouds."
Michigan followed a strategy of
driving slowly in sunny patches and
faster under clouds - "a game of
hide and seek," Noles said. It al-
See DRIVERS, Page 11
GM Sunrayce USA, 1990 Race Route
. FIN ISH:
M T ent
Gre C eilee
L uisv ilK
B e Y
Mon ry, L Talla assee, FL
Note: Race consisted of STA RT:
11 stages and covered oral City, F
a distance of 1800 miles. EOTendter,
Teams plan minor
changes for Australia,
by Ian Hoffman
Daily NSE Editor
What might have seemed like re-
sume builder when it first began, has
turned into nearly a two year, full
time commitment for members of
the University Solar Car team.
Solar car teams from the Univer-.
sities of Michigan and Maryland, and
Western Washington University
were invited to participate in the.
World Solar Challenge this fall in
Australia. The invitation was ex-
tended by virtue of the school's top
three finishes in July's GM Sun-
Dave Larson, race strategist for
Western Washington said. "Bur other
than that we won't do a lot."
"We want to finish our telemetry
system, fix our ball bearings and
take off a couple of pounds," said;
Tim Long, a race strategist for the.
University of Maryland. "Everything
else we want to do are small details."
Michigan will also keep the ma-
jor parts of its car intact. "We defi-
nitely won't build a new array or-
body," Fancy said.
Two of the schools feel they
stand a better chance in the desert of
Australia than in the U. S.
V_________________________________ 'M M,',.