Solar Car Team places 9th in national competition



By Summer Hall

The UK Solar Car Team competed in the American Solar Challenge last month and placed ninth out of 13 competing teams. Their solar car, Gato del Sol IV, took a total of two years to design and build, according to Solar Car Team leaders Mark Miller and Zach Robinette.

The American Solar Challenge was an 1,100 mile journey beginning in Broken Arrow, Okla., and ending in Naperville, Ill. Former team General Manager Sam Nicaise said the challenge was no easy ride for the Gato del Sol IV.

“Much of the car had to be repaired or re-engineered at some point along the two weeks,” Nicaise said. “The race was the first time the car had been road tested, therefore, it was remarkable how well it performed considering. Nonetheless, much of it had to be tweaked along the way.”

The Gato del Sol IV averaged at least 45 miles per hour on its best day.

The UK Solar Car Team has been around since 1999, mainly under the College of Engineering. They have built four cars and completed three national competitions.

The goals of Solar Car Team are to design, build and race solar-powered vehicles and to educate and demonstrate the viability of solar power as a renewable energy source.

“This is one of the best out-of-class experiences because it forces you to come up with solutions to very open-ended problems from cradle to grave,” Nicaise said of the Solar Car Team. “The racing is an intense experience — something that you can’t find anywhere else.”

For more information on the UK Solar Team, visit or follow them at For more information on the American Solar Challenge, visit