The hundreds of high school students converging on Texas Motor Speedway this weekend will be the last to complain about the continuing triple-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
A group of 29 high school teams from 14 states, including a strong contingent from North Texas, will arrive this weekend at the world-renowned motorsports facility to prepare for the Solar Car Challenge competition that will be a cross-country trek from Fort Worth to Palmdale, Calif. in a span of just seven days.
The Solar Car Challenge is an educational program designed to help motivate students in science, engineering and alternative energy, and teach students how to design, engineer, build, race and evaluate road-worthy solar cars. The Solar Car Challenge Foundation, based in Plano, Texas, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year while this will be the 23rd season of competition dating to the inaugural race in 1995.
“The 2018 Solar Car Challenge is a celebration of ‘the challenge,’ ” Solar Car Foundation President & Race Director Dr. Lehman Marks said. “If you challenge the hearts and minds of young people, they will rise to the occasion. Twenty-eight years ago, six students developed the first high school solar car after being challenged by some great friends at the University of North Texas. The end product of their hard work laid the foundation for the Solar Car Challenge Education program in 1993. Today, more than 192 high schools across the country take part in the Solar Car Challenge with a waiting list of almost 400 schools wanting to join this top project-based STEM initiative.”
The six students, the founders of the Solar Car Challenge, will be honored Sunday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT, during the Solar Car Challenge Opening Banquet at the DFW Marriott Hotel & Golf Club at Champions Circle across from the speedway.
The teams will spend Saturday through Monday scrutineering – also more commonly known as qualifying in racing terms – for the Solar Car Challenge in the NASCAR Cup garage located in the speedway infield. Dr. Marks and the competitors also will have a Media Day segment Monday that will run from 10 a.m.-Noon in the garage area. Interested media planning to attend can contact the Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department at 817.215.8520 or[email protected].
The Solar Car Challenge routinely alternates its race format between the teams competing on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval to a cross-country excursion. This year, they will have a seven-day, cross-country race from Fort Worth to Palmdale, Calif., which is a driving distance of 1,364 miles.
The Solar Car Challenge race officially will begin at 9 a.m. CT Tuesday at the intersection of Texan Drive and Highway 114 near the Northwest ISD Special Programs building. The race start also will be open to media.
The Solar Car Challenge will begin in Fort Worth and end seven days later in Palmdale, Calif.
The race, which runs from Tuesday through Monday, July 23, will have the teams travel from Fort Worth to Snyder, Texas (Day 1) and then onto Carlsbad, New Mexico (Day 2); El Paso, Texas (Day 3 and Day 4 rest day); Phoenix, Ariz. (Day 5); Palms, Calif. (Day 6) and Palmdale, Calif. (Day 7).
The North Texas contingent that will compete in the Solar Car Challenge consists of 10 teams: Winston School of Dallas, All Saints Episcopal School of Fort Worth, Coppell High School, Plano Green Team, Liberty Christian of Argyle, Prosper High School, Byron Nelson High School of Trophy Club, Covenant Christian Academy of Colleyville, Wylie East High School and Greenville High School.
Also representing Texas are Presidio (TX) High School, Stallions Solar Car Team of San Antonio and Stony Point High School of Round Rock.
The other states being represented by teams are:
  • Arkansas – Lisa Academy North Solar Car Team (Little Rock)
  • California – La Canada Engineering Club (La Canada); Palmdale High School (Palmdale)
  • Colorado – Animas High School (Durango)
  • Florida – North Broward Eagles (Coconut Creek); Western High School (Davie)
  • Illinois – Pana High School (Pana)
  • Oklahoma – Dove Academy (Oklahoma City)
  • Maryland – Montgomery Blair High School (Silver Spring)
  • Michigan – Heroes’ Alliance Vehicle Technology Team (Detroit); Okemos Solar Racing Club (Okemos)
  • Mississippi – Houston Solar Car Race Team (Houston)
  • Missouri – Frontier High School (Kansas City)
  • New York – Staten Island Solar Car/Green Technology (Staten Island)
  • North Carolina – Leesville Solar Car Team (Raleigh)
  • Oregon – Oregon Solar Car Team (Bend)
High school teams began preparation for these year-long solar car projects during education workshops in September of last year. Additional workshops, on-site visits, mentor opportunities and summer camps helped the projects come to fruition. The teams will compete in four divisions – Classic, Advanced Classic (used their classic car for more than three years), Advanced and Electric-Solar Powered – in the cross-country race.

For more information and race updates on the Solar Car Challenge, please