UM Solar - ASC - National Champions!

Submitted by Bronco648 on July 22nd, 2012 at 8:29 AM

UM Solar

As Brady Hoke would say “This is Michigan, for God’s sakes.” We just won our 7th National Championship! Thanks to our fans, alumni and supporters we could not have done it without you. Go Blue!!!
On July 21, 2012, we not only won our 7th National Championship, but we finished the race with the largest margin of victory in the history of the American Solar Challenge. We are proud to bring home the trophy to Ann Arbor for a 4th consecutive time, however, we are not stopping here! Believe it or not, before this race even began, we were already working on the next car. We know it was our fans, alumni, and sponsors that drove us to the finish line. If you are interested in joining the 2013 solar car team as we prepare for the World Solar Challenge, please contact us about sponsorship or make a personal donation.

As you can imagine, information is a little sparse on a Sunday morning. But, here's what I do know. The weather, unfortunately, wasn't the best to end the race. Las Crosse, WI had cloud cover and St. Paul had thunderstorms. To top it off, Quantum experienced fogging of their canopy, making visibility even worse than it was already (thanks to the light rain). In an effort to be safe, they stopped a few times to clear the condensation. It was apparent that Principia and Minnesota wanted, badly, to win the last Stage. In an effort to steer clear of any potential hazards, Quantum hung back and allowed those two to duke it out for the Stage win. With the stops, Iowa State passed Quantum as well. However, the total margin of victory was still 10 hours and 19 minutes, an ASC record.

Quantum attempting to complete their charge, Saturday morning, La Crosse, WI.

UM Solar

image courtesy of Diane Thach

Parental support along the route into St. Paul, MN

UM Solar

image courtesy of Diane Thach

Quantum entering Minnesota

UM Solar

image courtesy of Diane Thach

Final Results:


Team # and Name Stage 1 Time Stage 2 Time Stage 3 Time Stage 4 Time Stage 5 Time Total Elapsed Time Miles Credited
2 – Michigan 04:13:29 10:32:55 12:26:15 11:59:47 05:23:55 44:36:21 1652.80
9 – Iowa State 04:22:34 16:03:25 14:02:33 15:36:49 04:49:42 54:55:03 1652.80
32 – Principia 05:26:59 14:22:48 17:12:00 14:18:31 04:29:11 55:49:29 1652.80
254 – CalSol 05:34:35 15:32:19 16:04:08 15:33:46 04:37:17 57:22:05 1652.80
35 – Minnesota 04:32:09 13:25:16 22:01:03 17:00:52 03:53:57 60:53:17 1572.45
256 – Oregon State 5:56:04 17:07:27 16:30:44 31:11:09 06:18:35 77:03:59 1390.05
5 – Illinois State 06:12:05 23:57:36 29:33:27 29:54:57 12:48:54 102:26:59 911.80
20 – Western Michigan 05:10:14 35:54:12 24:18:45 32:07:57 5:31:52 103:03:00 886.80
55 – Montreal 07:21:18 32:25:12 28:46:39 28:58:57 11:38:15 109:10:21 829.35
28 – New Paltz 08:54:39 30:48:12 28:03:03 35:25:57 13:27:42 116:39:33 727.70
4 – MIT 05:27:05 47:10:06 39:49:33 16:00:52 14:08:48 122:36:24 854.65

Last updated 7/21/12 – 23:37 Central. Times given as hh:mm:ss.

I plan to do a recap of the race, hopefully this week. I'll see if I can provide a little more background information, we'll meet Team members and find out exactly what happened on the last day. Thanks for following along. Thanks for the kind words in your replies. And, thanks for becoming fans of a group of dedicated students that are truly World Class in every sense of the word. Michigan Men and Women, they certainly are.

Please ask questions. There are two former Team members that frequent this blog and follow my posts. I can also ask former Team members in which I am in contact. One way or another, we'll get you an answer.

UM Solar now looks forward to the World Solar Challenge in 2013. They will have a new car to chase the World Championship. I wish them the best of luck in their endeavor. Go Blue! Go UM Solar!

UM Solar: LINK




July 22nd, 2012 at 8:47 AM ^

...accomplishment for the entire UM Solar Car team, family and sponsors.

Total, complete domination of an outclassed field.

Looking forward to seeing what innovations are incorporated into the next version of the UM Solar Car.

Recommendation for car name: Dilithium

Charlie Chunk

July 22nd, 2012 at 8:52 AM ^

What are some of the factors that make a winning team?  I mean, is the product that much better than your opponents or do the driving skills have anything to do with it? 

The car must be pretty robust.

Congratulations to you all.

Naked Bootlegger

July 22nd, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

Product, testing, preparation, and 100% dedication by a core group of students who live and breathe UM Solar Car.    Engineering prowess and a top-notch race strategy team have made UM a powerhouse over the past two decades. This is the ultimate team experience, and they collectively function as a living, breathing unit to make this thing work.  


July 23rd, 2012 at 8:52 AM ^

Obviously, there are a lot of factors when it comes to motorsports. Dedicated personnel, budget, support from the University, support from the Alumni, facilites and winning tradition are certainly big factors. Driving skill is part of that equation but, IMO, not that big of a part. Yes, you do have to know the limits of the vehicle but a lot of the time is spent going in a straight line. However, if you want to change the term from "driver" to "operator", now things change significantly and, yes, operator skill plays a bigger part of the whole.

The car is very robust with respect to other solar cars, however, it's still a pretty light-weight and fragile machine.


July 22nd, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

MIT had to trailer a large portion of the race due to a minor crash combined with really lousy weather - trailering gives a large penalty. From experience, any crash tends to introduce a number of gremlins that don't show up until after you've been driving a bit.

When MIT was fully operational, they actually ran pretty well.

Also, MIT had a great team until 2005, then fell off when their core graduated. They are just now getting back to all hands on deck, and should be a factor in the future.


July 22nd, 2012 at 9:57 AM ^

Wise to hang back during the final stage since victory was already assured.

I can't help but recall the hilarious MSU entry from a few years ago. A sheet of plywood on top of a fiberglass bathtub.


July 23rd, 2012 at 8:57 AM ^

That car, or an iteration thereof, still exists. In all fairness to Sparty (and I know we like to beat up on Lil' Bro), they are still a very young team w/o the same support or facilities that makes UM Solar so good. The memebrs of UM Solar are willing to share knowledge and, to a certain degree, parts with them. The Solar Car community is a little more tightly knit and works to help each other (as opposed to tear them down). In this case, Sparty is lil' bro in the more truer sense of the phrase.


July 22nd, 2012 at 4:09 PM ^

I work with a guy who was MIT's lead aero person in 2005, which you would know was when they had a great design. If you think I'm harsh you should hear what he has to say about he current team lol.

You can just see the look on their faces that they're just there to show up. It's been 4 years since 2008 but they still haven't recovered.

I contrast this with the attitude that Stanford had when they showed up to WSC last year. They made some design decisions which ended up costing them a lot of time and race position, but they showed up to win. They had the mentality that they were out to beat us and not just roll over and die. They are out to learn from their mistakes and make an assault for 2013. 

That's the kind of attitude that I don't see from MIT.


July 22nd, 2012 at 2:07 PM ^

I'm in R&D in the electrical engineering field. There is a rule of thumb that says it takes ~20 years from first demonstration of a new technology (GaAs, GaN, etc.) until that technology is commercialized. I realize this is apples and oranges, but solar cars have been around for some time now. What is the endgame? Is it just to educate automotive engineers and continuously improve the technology, or should we expect to see solar cars on our roadways sometime in the future? If the latter, when?


July 22nd, 2012 at 3:40 PM ^

Never, at least not full solar. Even 100% efficient cells (physically impossible) would yield only a few horsepower in full sun on an average car. Solar-supplemented electric? Maybe. The other problem is that solar cells are really expensive, and minor crashes end up being wildly expensive affairs.

This is basically an engineering challenge and a training ground for future engineers.

That said, a few technologies now in electric/hybrid cars were first applied to solar cars - regenerative braking, hub motors, and Li-Ion batteries.


July 22nd, 2012 at 2:35 PM ^

I'm always so proud when I think of the U of M solar team. It's one of the things that impressed the crap out of me when I first visited campus and enrolled in engineering. Though I later changed majors, I always feel like the team epitomizes the pursuit of excellence and what it is to be and strive to be a Wolverine.

Feat of Clay

July 22nd, 2012 at 7:34 PM ^

I mentioned this in an earlier thread: when I talked to a Calsol guy, I asked why they weren't spraying their cells with water to cool them during charging, as many of the other teams were doing. He said something like "Someone should be; we're not that organized."

In contrast, the UM team member I'd been talking to was spraying constantly, and he politely excused himself from my fangirl questions when he couldn't reach the far side of the car from where we were talking.

The Calsol guy was super nice; it was just clear their team was young and had a different, less professional approach to the race.


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

They had motivation to look good on the last day as they approached "home". I heard, somewhere, that they trailered part of the last stage in an effort to make it a "race". Overall, they had a pretty disappointing 2012 ASC. Hopefully, they'll recover.