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Okemos Solar Racing Club wins first place in solar car challenge

Okemos Solar Racing Club
Posted at 5:10 AM, Aug 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-05 05:10:23-04

OKEMOS, Mich. — A couple weeks ago we introduced you to the Okemos Solar Racing Club at Okemos High School before they went down to Texas for the 30th Annual Solar Car Challenge. They returned to the state with some good news.

“We got to race for three days, we drove around 220 miles, and we were able to get first place in our division," said Okemos Senior Jun Hong.

Competing against four other single passenger solar cars in the classic division the Okemos Solar Racing Club came out on top.

“On a normal day, we would wake up bright and early, around like 5, 6 after a long night of work, so, we're pretty tired," Hong said. "We go in, we get our car ready for competition, we go to a team meeting where they announce all the results of the previous day like who won that day and then we get the car ready and we start driving around 9am until 5pm and there's like a lunch break and some stops.”

But that doesn't mean the road wasn't bumpy along the way with a few fixes here and there.

“The electrical team had a night where they were up at four," said David Shi.

"We fixed the lights," said Suhas Pachipulusu. "We had a huge problem and then we fixed it and it worked out.”

Not to mention driving in the Texas heat on main highways.

“You're passing on real roads, on highways next to big trucks. So, you know, a solar car isn't exactly the safest vehicle," Hong said. "So you're traveling as a convoy with three other gas cars and it's quite the logistical challenge to kind of manage that convoy and keep the spacing right and everything.”

But that didn't stop the team from winning the race.

“It felt good to be able to finally win, you know, after putting those tireless hours every single day, 13 hours, 12 hours, and it just felt amazing to win,” Shi said.

Soon the team will get the same car ready to compete again next year.

“Next year it will be a track race at the Texas Motor Speedway instead of cross country race," Hong said. "In the future, I hope this club continues even after I graduate and we keep racing.”

For now though, they're going to celebrate.

“It was a really good experience," Shi said. "We learned commitment, dedication to something and it's really cool to see something that you've built go so far.”

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple

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