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Finish Looms in Race With the Sun

Solar-powered cars designed by college students will arrive today in Claremont after a 2,400-mile trip from Chicago.

July 23, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Solar-powered automobiles, racing primarily along historic Route 66, arrived in Barstow on Tuesday, nearing the end of about a 2,400-mile race that began in Chicago this month.

The American Solar Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, is expected to end today in Claremont.

"The race is one of the best ways we thought to inspire students to pursue careers in science and engineering," said John Horst, a race spokesman with the Department of Energy. "It will show people solar power is a viable option today to produce clean energy."

Twenty cars, designed over two to three years by engineering students from universities throughout the country and Canada, are participating in the race, he said.

The University of Missouri-Rolla arrived in Barstow on Monday with an elapsed time of 48 hours, 42 minutes for 2,142 miles, according to the race's Web site.

The University of Minnesota came in second with 53 hours, 31 minutes and the University of Waterloo in Canada was third with 54 hours, 54 minutes.

Beginning at 9 a.m. today, cars will leave Barstow in one-minute intervals, based on each car's elapsed time, and leading racers should reach Claremont by 11 a.m., said Horst.

On previous race days, drivers stopped at 6 p.m. and stayed the night. Some camped out in fields, stayed behind gas stations or at designated race checkpoints, said Gary Schmidt of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The standard car is designed to hold only the driver, but a couple of this year's entries can carry a driver and a passenger, Schmidt said.

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