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The History of Solar Car Racing

August 2, 2016
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Solar car racing is a competitive race of electric cars. The cars are powered by solar energy that is harnessed through a solar panel installed on the car’s surface. Most solar cars manufactured today are primarily made for racing.


The genesis of solar car racing

Solar car racing started in Australia in the 1980s. The fathers of the race and challenge are Hans Tholstrup and Larry Perkins, who completed a Solar Trek from Perth to Sydney in 1983 and inspired the introduction of the game. The first race, the European Tour de Sol, was done in 1985. After this race, many other solar car races were designed to introduce the race as a game to other parts of the world.


Intensive research and development

It was not until 1987 when extensive research about and development of racing solar cars was ignited by the GM Sunraycer, who completed a 3010 km trip setting a record average speed of 67 km/h. Other solar car races were held afterward, including The American Tour de Sol, and the American Solar Challenge.


The Solar Car Team and the Solar Car Challenge in the US

In the US, solar car racing has been developed by the Solar Car Team. In 1993, the team introduced a program in high schools to train students how to build and race solar cars. Through the education program, students throughout the country are provided with curriculum materials and participate in solar education workshops. At the end of the two-year solar car education cycle, high school teams participate in the Solar Car Challenge at the Texas Motor Speedway, an event that gives the students an opportunity to showcase their work.


The biggest car racing event in the world

Due to its origin in Australia, today’s biggest solar car event (The World Solar Challenge) is sponsored by the government of South Australia. Teams from around the world participate in an 1800-mile race from Darwin to Adelaide. Usual participants in this solar car race are universities who aim at developing students’ technological and engineering skills. Business corporations also enter the competition.

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