By Floyd Ingram
OUTBACK, Australia – Take Southern boy NASCAR know-how and couple it with some of the most advanced solar technology on the planet, and you have Sundancer, the Houston Solar Car.
Sundancer, the simple but rugged Houston Solar Car, was back in the race to become the first high school team to cross the Australian continent in the 2015 World Solar Car Challenge on Tuesday.
The car suffered an electrical problem, quickly remedied by a team of high school students, and raced more than 200 miles yesterday to pass the university car from MIT in the Challenger Class and take the lead from
Liberty Christian, a private school in Fort Worth, racing in the Adventure Class with Sundancer.
The 14-member Houston team has driven Sundancer more miles than any other car in its class at 322 and has not loaded its vehicle on the trailer so far. Liberty Christian has trailered twice and has 247 miles under its belt.
The Houston team spent the night in the Australian Outback again Monday night, where students heard dingos yelp and had the Southern Cross constellation pointed out to them by natives who stopped by their camp along the side of the Stuart Highway.
The remoteness of their location in the Australian Outback prevented them from making their regular morning call at 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Houston, Mississippi time – Monday night/ Tuesday morning.
Texts from various students makes it appear Sundancer is on the road and about eight miles behind Liberty Christian.
The team rolls out of the green belt of trees and grass along the coast of Australia today and will venture into the orange, dusty, 100-degree Outback desert.
Bottled water is $5 and can be purchased when they can find a store along the highway.
The Stuart Highway splits the center of Australia and the is the route of the 1,800-mile World Solar Car Challenge.
Sundancer struggled in the hills surrounding the coast but appears to have hits its stride on the straight flat stretches of the Stuart Highway.
There are 47 teams from 25 countries taking part in the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Cars are rated in three classes – Challenger, Cruiser and Adventure. Sundancer is racing in the Adventure Class.
The Adventure Class is conducted over two stages, with an overnight stop in Alice Springs.
During the journey there are seven mandatory check points where observers are changed and team managers may update themselves with the latest information on the weather and their own position in the field. Here teams may perform the most basic of maintenance only – checking and maintenance of “tyre” pressure and cleaning of debris from the vehicle.
You can keep up with the Houston Solar Car on their Facebook page at Houston Solar Race Team (Sundancer). You can keep up with the team’s trek across the Australia at www.worldsolarchallenge.org. Click “2015 Event” then click “Car Tracker” to keep up with Sundancer’s actual location.