UM Solar - Formula Sun Grand Prix

Submitted by Bronco648 on July 10th, 2012 at 1:50 PM

The UM Solar Car passed scrutineering:

After going through multiple tests and checks with scrutineers, our team is finally set to go onto the Formula Grand Sun Prix! Now, we have FSGP which is a track race that will determine pole position in the American Solar Challenge. Below is the current leaderboard of the teams and their current status in scrutineering.

scrutineering board

I know it's hard to see but UM Solar is at the top of the board. They'll start the FSGP in third position (I don't understand how those positions were determined). Starting second is Western Michigan with Oregon State on the pole. Currently, UM Solar is leading the FSGP. I have an email out to Diane Thach, who handles media relations, for further information. As always, you can visit the team's web page for the latest updates: LINK

Here's a list of the teams entered (per the board above):

  • UM
  • University of Kentucky
  • MIT
  • Illinois State
  • Iowa State
  • Northwestern
  • Michigan State
  • Western Michigan
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • Principia
  • University of Minnesota
  • Georgia Tech
  • Polytechnique Montreal
  • University of California - Berkeley
  • Oregon State
  • University of New Mexico

Here's UM Solar's actual scrutineering sheet:

green stickers

I've asked Diane why it appears that the car initially failed the Battery Protection check.

Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer or find out.

Go Blue.

UPDATE: As of 1 PM EDT, Quantum holds an 11 lap lead (1 lap = 1.6 miles) over Principia (65 laps) and Western (63 laps). The FSGP site (LINK) appears to be providing occasional updates. Some teams have not passed scrutineering and therefore have not made it onto the track as of yet. The FSGP is July 10 thru 12 from 9 AM to 6 PM.


  • Quantum - 97 laps
  • Western - 78 laps
  • Iowa State - 75 laps

UPDATE 3 (3 PM EDT - courtesy of santy):

  • Quantum - 114
  • Iowa State - 93
  • WMU - 93
  • Principia - 85
  • Minnesota - 75
  • Illinois State - 64


  • Quantum* - 127
  • Iowa State* - 110
  • Western* - 107
  • Principia - 95
  • Minnesota - 93

* Qualified for the 2012 American Solar Challenge

Final UPDATE  (7-10-12 10:45 PM EDT)

  • Quantum* - 145
  • Iowa State* - 125
  • Western* - 120
  • Minnesota* - 109
  • Principia - 93

* Qualified for the 2012 American Solar Challenge

Minnesota makes a BIG comeback after a slow start and qualifies for the ASC. Sadly, the team from Polytechnique Montreal forfeited all 76 of their laps (no reason given). They can still qualify by either completing 105 laps in one day or 160 over two consecutive days.

UM Solar treated all the teams to breakfast on Wednesday, July 11.



July 10th, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

Pile position is determined by when you finished scrutineering. It's not terribly important - fsgp is the event that sets the pole for the big ASC race next week. FSGP winners are determined by number of laps run over the course of the event, and primarily rewards reliability.

Michigan initially failed the battery check because a couple systems were configured for the World Solar Challenge, which has different rules (ASC is more stringent about quantitative ratings and where things are installed). A couple of minor modifications put Michigan in compliance.


July 10th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

I suspected as much (with respect to the starting order for the FSGP) but wasn't sure.

It sounds like you have insider info or are/were part of the Team. Care to reveal yourself or confirm/deny? I have no connection other than an intense love of motorsports and being a lifelong fan of the University. If you'd prefer to remain anonymous, I understand.


July 10th, 2012 at 2:21 PM ^

Team alumni and current team members continue to correspond in various ways that are, for a number of reasons, non public. I'm not on the team anymore so what they reveal publicly is in large part their call, but I'll try to pass along any information I can and answer general questions about the team, the car, and the race.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:40 PM ^

I met him two years ago when the ASC went thru Naperville, IL. He was kind enough to introduce me to the current and former team members and give me a personal tour of Infinium. He's a just an all-around nice guy. His enthusiasm is contagious. There are a few former team members here in Chicago-land. It's interesting to hear their stories and gain perspective from their education/experiences.


July 10th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

I have not seen a picture of Sparty's car this year. But, given their budget, or lack thereof, I would think that it hasn't changed much. I will do some research.

UPDATE: They have a web site and a blog site. Neither shows the current car (Brasidius III). Perhaps some will be made available from the FSGP and ASC.


July 10th, 2012 at 2:49 PM ^

was on that team last year. Granted it was their first year in competition and nobody had any real experience to speak of but my GOOOD that thing was hideous. I didn't give him too much shit for it though because it's far better than anything I could ever dream of producing.


July 10th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

There's a much different vibe in the solar car community, especially at the collegiate level. Most teams try to help each other as much as they can. I know that at least one member of MSU's team visited UM Solar on more than one occasion last year. However, Sparty doesn't have the resources that UM's team does. They're also a very young team and are doing the best they can with what they have. They are now on the third version of their car. But, aside from different colors and a different driver's dome, there isn't much visual difference between Brasidius I and Brasidius II. I would be surprised if Brasidius III looked much different. Hopefully, they're putting their time and effort into the drive system to make it more reliable. They have yet to pass scrutineering so they haven't logged any laps on the FSGP track. You have to remember that Quantum is a world-class team whereas most university teams are not. I'm a little surprised that the Gophers aren't performing better. They've been quite good in the past. Standford is not competing this year. They're very good as well.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

Yeah, the rivalries are USUALLY pretty congenial. In particular Michigan likes to help out the little guys when they can - MSU's car is using one of Michigan's spare motors and controllers. To be honest, the newest MSU care looks rather rougher than their last couple. But they're operating on a shoestring and clearly in it for the fun of it.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

I don't know that there's direct assistance - at this point Principia can be competitive with Michigan if the cards fall right - but Michigan and Principia are "friends". This is at least in part due to the fact that a Michigan ME in 2005-6 was a grad student who'd done his undergrad at Principia.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:10 PM ^

Stanford aren't competing because they designed their car for WSC 2011 with no intentions of racing in ASC 2012. Instead they might race in Suzuka this year which is a pretty fun race too. They would have done better last year if not for some tire issues at the start of the race. 

Surpirsed by how badly Minessota is doing too, but then again, it seems like they had to severely rush construction or a brand new car.

MIT is nowhere... again.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:26 PM ^

Are the WSC rules and the ASC rules so different that you can design a car to compete in one but not the other? I thought they were close enough that you could compete in both.

Yeah, what's up with MIT? I expected much, much more from them. I did not know that Goldy has built a new car. Thanks for that tidbit.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:41 PM ^

MIT used to have a great team, as recently as 2005. They were top 5 in the country, and won ASC in 1995 (then it was called Sunrayce).

But as is the danger with all student projects, a few key people graduated, nobody comparable stepped up, and they are almost back at square one.


July 10th, 2012 at 4:00 PM ^

The goal of WSC is to go a long way in a relatively straight line very efficiently. In a track event, acceleration, handling, and braking are much more important. For example, Michigan's car would perhaps not be competitive at Suzuka because the motor it uses is a smaller, lower torque (but more efficient) model than those use by the best Suzuka teams.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

per ASC twitter

3pm lap count update: Michigan with 114. Iowa and WMU with 93 each. Principia with 85. Minnesota with 75. Illinois with 64.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:28 PM ^

would have an unfair advantage in Solar Car competition. This could explain why St. Cloud St. has not entered. ... How long until that game anginst against 'bama? I think I'm losing it.


July 10th, 2012 at 3:32 PM ^

Ha! That acronym is pronounced "Soony". I attended SUNY Brockport (State University of New York). New Paltz has a reputation as kind of a hippie town (at least it did when I lived in Poughkeepsie). I'm kind of surprised they're in the field. IIRC, SUNY Stoney Brook is the engineering school.

That 'Bama game? Not soon enough. =D