Solar Car ready to race—online

June 16, 1999

ANN ARBOR—When the fifth University of Michigan solar car, Maize Blaze, starts off on its 1,300-mile pursuit of the checkered flag on Sunday (June 20), Internet-savvy fans all over the world can follow right along.
The hand-built, $1.5 million racer runs on less power than a microwave oven, but that will be enough to get it from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla., in a nine-day contest with 39 other student solar car teams.
After each day’s racing, results and fresh photos will be posted to the solar car’s official Web site:
In addition to daily updates, the solar car site offers detailed background on how the car came together, how it works and who built it. This is more than just a compelling competition that viewers will want to look at each day, it’s also a good educational site to get young people more interested in science and technology, the U-M students say.
The cars race a set distance each day, in stages like the Tour de France bicycle race. Overall standings are determined by each car’s elapsed time. Mechanical failures, wrong turns and train crossings change the standings daily as the race plays out in a slow motion drama. The finish will be June 29 at Epcot Center in Orlando. For more details, visit
General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy began sponsoring the transcontinental race for North American college students in 1990 to encourage alternative energy research and to further engineering education. Michigan cars won the first two runnings of the bi-annual Sunrayce, and this car hopes for a three-peat. Maize Blaze car has won sponsorship support and equipment from dozens of companies, including Ford, IBM, MDSI and numerous auto suppliers. CenterGeneral Motors