The University Record, September 13, 1999

Outback next stop for solar car

The University’s $1.5 million student-built solar car will be heading for ‘Down Under’ next week to participate in the grueling 1,800-mile World Solar Challenge (WSC) race in the middle of the Australian continent. About half the team will accompany the car, with the students departing Sept. 26. A semi-trailer full of meticulously organized tools and spare parts set sail from Los Angeles in mid-August.

The race across the desolate Outback is notorious for its thundering ‘truck trains,’ teeth-rattling cattle crossing grates, and the occasional road-kill kangaroo to swerve around.

Following a disappointing 17th-place finish in this summer’s rain-soaked Sunrayce USA, team members stripped the car’s thousands of solar cells off its back. They found wet spots and charring from leaks in the high-voltage array. During the race, the car’s power was one-third of what it should have been. Under the Australian race’s less stringent rules, the car is allowed to have state-of-the-art batteries and solar cells. The team put in long hours installing about $60,000 worth of improvements.

The WSC Web page is at The U-M car’s page is at


The run was fun

Almost 250 members of the University and greater community joined President Lee C. Bollinger Sept. 10 in a ‘quintessential’ 5K fun run event through the Arboretum. ‘The Arb is a great setting and it was a perfect early fall morning,’ reported James Kosteva, coordinator of the event and director of the Office of Community Relations. He said the runners enjoyed the ‘laid-back atmosphere’ surrounding the event, with most of them sauntering through the course. Many of the participants in the third annual fun run were able to share a few comments with Bollinger, Kosteva added, adding that the president’s enthusiasm for the activity was contagious. Photo by Bob Kalmbach