Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

Note that links in blog entries are not maintained, so while a link may be verified to work on the day of publishing, this is not guaranteed beyond that day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Michigan: Mock Race Update 3

Today we performed coast down testing all day up and down the road. In total we performed 47 runs totaling over 250 km up and down the same road. The purpose of this was to see how far the solar car would travel before it rolled to a stop. The day was really hot and sunny and there were high winds and lots of updrafts. This evening we had an incident that reminded me of the movie “Race the Sun.” One of the funny scenes is where they say “Watch out for the willi willis, they’ll get you!” These are also known as dust devils – mini tornados that cruise across the ground, picking up sand and are caused by convection.

We finished the coast down testing around 5 o’clock in the evening at which point we pulled Continuum onto the side of the road, put the upper surface on the array stand, and began charging the batteries. The upper surface was facing the sun on the lift gate behind us when suddenly everything around us turned orange with sand blowing everywhere. As we tried looking around, we saw the upper surface lifted 5 feet off of the ground and the tail end flipped around. The umbilical cord used to charge the batteries was the only thing holding it to the ground. Suddenly the array crashed to the ground with the trailing edge hitting first. Meanwhile, the dust devil had continued on, taking our chase vehicles’ front 2 wheels off ground and throwing one of our tents 250 feet into the air.

Thankfully, the lower surface is fine and the upper surface only has minor scratches on the rear portion of the array. With only one day remaining in the mock race we have made the decision to return to Adelaide to ensure that no further damage is done to the car.

--Brian Ignaut