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The North American Solar Challenge (NASC), previously known as Sunrayce and the American Solar Challenge, is a solar car race across the United States and Canada. In the race, teams from colleges and universities throughout North America design, build, test, and race solar-powered vehicles in a long distance road rally-style event. NASC is a test of teamwork, engineering skill, and endurance that stretches across thousands of miles of public roads.

The 2008 NASC took place on July 13-22, 2008, on a route between Dallasmarker, Texasmarker and Calgarymarker, Albertamarker.

Format and Organization

Solar race cars and crews at the start of the 2005 race in Austin, Texas.
Photo: Stefano Paltera/North American Solar Challenge.


  • Race consists of a series of timed stages between predetermined locations; all teams begin and end each stage in the same location
  • The team with the lowest overall elapsed time wins
  • The total area of all solar cells and related reflectors, etc. must not exceed 6 square meters
  • When the vehicle has stopped, the solar array may be reoriented toward the sun for charging batteries
  • Strict specifications and engineering scrutiny process is provided for vehicle configuration, safety requirements, and other standards
  • Teams in the race are divided into two categories; open and stock
*Open classSolar cells over $10 USD per watt (higher efficiency)
*Stock class — From a pre-approved list of cells that are under $10 per watt
:(Previous races also specified different battery technologies for the classes)

Race route

The 1990 and 1993 races had a south-north orientation, intended to roughly match the Darwinmarker-to-Adelaidemarker, Australia, route of the World Solar Challenge. In 1995, race organizers opted for a mostly east-west route from Indianapolis to Colorado. In 2005, the ASC adopted its current route that follows a south-to-north orientation across the United States, then turns to the west upon reaching Canada.

Since 1995, the Race Director has been Dan Eberle, a professor at Crowder Collegemarker in Neosho, Missourimarker.


Originally called Sunrayce USA, the first race was organized and sponsored by General Motors in 1990 in an effort to promote automotive engineering and solar energy among college students. At the time, GM had just won the inaugural World Solar Challenge in Australia in 1987; rather than continue actively racing, it instead opted to sponsor collegiate events.

Subsequent races were held in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999 under the name Sunrayce [year] (e.g. Sunrayce 93). In 2001, the race was renamed American Solar Challenge and was sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Beginning in 2005, its name changed again to its present form to reflect the border crossing into Canada and the addition of co-sponsor Natural Resources Canada.

After the 2005 race, the U.S. Department of Energy discontinued its sponsorship, resulting in no scheduled race for 2007. The race is now sponsored by Toyota.

University of Michigan's Sunrunner, winner of the inaugural Sunrayce USA in 1990.


The original, Sunrayce USA route started at Disney Worldmarker in Orlando, Florida and ended at the General Motors Technical Centermarker in Warren, Michigan. The winner of the first race was the University of Michigan Solar Car Team's Sunrunner, with an average speed of , followed by Western Washington University'smarker Viking XX.

University of Michigan's Maize & Blue, winner of Sunrayce 93.


Sunrayce 93 was held June 20-26, 1993. The race route covered over starting in Arlington, TXmarker and ending in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker. The first place car was Maize & Blue from the University of Michiganmarker followed by the Intrepid from Cal Poly Pomonamarker.


Sunrayce 95 ran along a route from Indianapolis, Indiana to Golden, Colorado. Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker won the race with an average speed of , followed by the University of Minnesotamarker just 18 minutes behind.

Michigan's M-Pulse team in 2001.


California State University-Los Angeles'smarker Solar Eagle III won the nine-day Sunrayce 97. Solar Eagle III averaged , followed by MITmarker's Manta GT in second place.

Stanford's Solstice team in 2005.


Sunrayce 99, running from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Florida, was notable for its lack of sunshine. The University of Missouri-Rollamarker's Solar Miner II won the race with an average speed of . The car from Queen's Universitymarker placed second.


In 2001, the race changed its name to the American Solar Challenge and followed a new route from Chicago, Illinoismarker to Claremont, Californiamarker along much of the old U.S. Route 66. The University of Michiganmarker won the overall race and the Open Class with a total elapsed time of 56 hours, 10 minutes, and 46 seconds, followed by the University of Missouri-Rollamarker. The University of Arizonamarker team won the Stock Class event.


The Solar Miner IV from the University of Missouri-Rollamarker won the 2003 race overall, as well as the Open Class; the Stock Class was won by the Prairie Fire GT from North Dakota State Universitymarker.

Michigan's Momentum charging in NASC 2005.


The 2005 race, renamed the North American Solar Challenge, was the longest and most hotly contested race so far. The route covered , taking the teams from Austin, Texasmarker in the United States to Calgarymarker, Albertamarker in Canada. The race was won by the Momentum from the University of Michigan with an average speed of . The University of Minnesota's Borealis III followed in second place. The lead teams often drove (the maximum allowed), but were slowed by rain in Kansasmarker and headwinds in Canada. Stanford University's Solstice won the Stock Class in 2005, followed in second place by the Beam Machine from The University of California, Berkeley.

Michigan's ContinuUM winning NASC 2008.


The 2008 North American Solar Challenge took place on July 13-22, 2008, along a route from Dallas, Texas to Calgary, Alberta. The University of Michigan's Continuum won the race with a total elapsed time of 51 hours, 41 minutes, and 53 seconds, marking that school's fifth victory. The Ra 7 from Principia College followed in second place.

As many of the top cars were bumping up against the race speed limit in the 2005 event, race rules were changed for 2008 order to improve safety and limit performance. Open class cars are now only allowed 6 square meters of active cell area, and upright seating is required for both open and stock class cars. The same changes were made for the 2007 World Solar Challenge.

See also


External links

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