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Okemos Solar Racing Club gears up for national competition

Okemos Solar Racing Club
Posted at 3:47 PM, Jul 09, 2023

OKEMOS, Mich. — There's nothing like a good sunny day, especially when you're racing a car completely made out of solar panels and needs to be operated by the sun.

That's what the Solar Racing Club at Okemos High School has been working on for a year, and they're ready to win a race.

“There's two main systems," said Okemos Senior Aarav Zutshi. "There's the main system, which has the solar powered energy and there's a supplemental system, which is just a regular battery we use.”

The group has been planning and building the car for a year, starting with computer modeling and then building the actual car.

“We started constructing the frame and then after that, we added the wheels, the steering, the braking, and all sorts of little electrical components to meet all the important safety regulations that are imposed on the solar power challenge,” said Okemos Senior Jun Hong.

The Solar Racing Club at the high school originally started in 2018, but after all the members graduate was disbanded. Until Hong got it powered up again this year.

“I founded the club and, you know, gathered some members," Hong said. " Then, I began making the car.”

The club has been hard at work building their solar powered car for the 30th Annual Solar Car Challenge.

“We drive from Fort Worth, Texas to Palmdale, California and we drive this little car and 925 miles across that span,” Zutshi said.

The competition maps out a route to safely get the cars from point A to point B.

“The Solar Car Challenge has a you know, a path planned out for us so, you know, we don't get into dangerous situations," Hong said. "They're slightly safer roads, slightly new, slower roads, avoiding highways, of course.”

The car will be driven by a rotating team of four people over the course of seven days.

While the team four years ago came in second place, this group is hoping to do even better.

“I mean, it's pretty exciting right? So we've been working on this car like tirelessly for over a year, all 10 of us and more that aren't here right now," Hong said. "It's pretty exciting to be able to finally go to Texas, meet other teams and compete and see your car on the road.”

The Okemos Solar Club heads to Texas for the race next week, competiting against 20 other high schools from across the country. The team that travels the most miles will be the winner.

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