Solar car team's World Cup trip to Australia canceled

Money raised for trip will be placed in account to prepare for next World Cup race.

From staff reports

The team of students from Houston Vocational Center who guided their solar car to victory in the 2001 Winston Solar Challenge in July, will not be heading to Australia in November for the World Cup race.

After considering issues of safety and security for students traveling thousands of miles from home, the executive committee of the Houston-based Australian Solar Car Race Project unanimously recommended to school Superintendent Steve Coker that the team withdraw from participation this year.

"If we were shipping freight or commodities we might take that chance," Coker said in a press release announcing the decision. "But these are our most valuable possessions, our children.

"The competition is half way around the world and the 17-member team would be gone almost 25 days. Even if they were to arrive there safely, there is no assurance that we could get them home."

The team was scheduled to make the trip to compete in the Nov. 15, 2001, race.

They won the $25,000 entry fee for the race in Australia by finishing first with their entrant Sundancer in the North American division, competing in an eight-day cross-country race from Austin, Texas, to Columbus, Indiana.

The team's electricity teacher and advisor, Keith Reese, said the team was disappointed, but the community has shown the team tremendous support by raising $85,000 toward the trip.

The money will be placed in an interest-bearing account to be used for ongoing solar car development and competitions to prepare for the next World Cup race in 2003.

"I know people think that this is all fun and show, but it has done tremendous things for promoting the application of math and science in Houston schools," Reese said. "There are other races in the continental U.S. that we can participate in to continue our research, and we will be back for the Australia run in 2003."

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