Solar car

[2103] Of Michigan is second, for now

So, here is the breakdown.

Umicore, which showed promise to dominate the solar car race here in Australia earlier, has crashed and is out of commission. Everybody from the team is fine, fortunately.

Another great team Aurora has problem too and is not in the top five.

Tokai is sprinting away from the rest with Michigan in the second place. Nuon is fast catching up with Michigan. At one time, Nuon was only 10 minutes behind Michigan.

You can see Nuon’s obsession with Michigan in the following video.

The race is now slightly over half way through.

My expectation is that Tokai is likely to finish first. As shown at the end of the video, the Japanese are simply too far ahead. The Sydney Morning Herald’s yesterday report corroborates this by stating that Tokai was 70 km ahead of Michigan.

Second and third places are up for grab between Michigan and Nuon. Nuon’s progress is definitely impressive given that they suffered a crash earlier. This further demonstrates why Nuon is a great team.

Whatever it is, Go Blue!

Solar car

[2102] Of it is solar car time again

Reading news[0] of the University of Michigan Solar Car team leaving Darwin behind racing in the World Solar Challenge reminds me of memories forged in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in Michigan. Friends are sometimes curious why do I give so much attention to solar car races. The reason is simply that I was part of the student group that was responsible for building Michigan’s 7th generation solar car. Though the car, Spectrum, embarrassingly became the first car from Michigan to fail to qualify for the North American Solar Challenge — the NASC or as it was known then, the American Solar Challenge, is probably the second most important race after the World Solar Challenge — I am immensely proud of whatever minor role I played for the team.

Besides, it is Michigan. I am everything I am, because of Michigan. I am eternally indebted to the school and I do not write these words lightly.

I wished I had participated in building the 8th generation car, Momentum, because this team went on to avenge the disaster of Spectum. They won the NASC and clinched the third place in the WSC.

I had serious personal problem then that I was forced to cease participation with solar car. On top of that, my grades were hurting. The amount of time spent on solar car per week was too much for me. At one time, I spent roughly 36 hours per week either testing solar panels, helping or rather, really, watching wire harnessing exercise or simply, hanging out in the workshop in Ypsilanti.

I needed to concentrate on my life. I needed to rebuild it. Something had to give and I regretfully chose solar car.

If I remember correctly, Momentum itself was named to remind all of the effort done on SpectrumMomentum was built from the lessons of Spectrum. In a way, Momentum had Spectrum’s momentum. The members of Momentum were mostly with part of Spectrum team anyway.

I remember friend Mirai Aki (the three miles incident will remain forever as the most hilarious episode I have experienced yet), the first person I befriended with with respect to solar car, and several others, working on Momentum, determined to redeem pride lost in 2003. They did Michigan proud in 2005.

In 2007 and 2008, the 9th generation car, Continuum, proved why Michigan is the most successful solar car team in North America. The team won the race outright. In the corresponding World Solar Challenge, Continuum managed the seventh place, despite suffering from an accident earlier in the race. Nuon from the Netherlands went on to win the first place, as they always do. Nuon has always been the giant to beat in solar car racing. The other giant is the Aurora team from Australia.

The 10th generation car called Infinium appears to have an opportunity to do better than Momentum. Indeed, I would go as far as saying that Michigan actually has a real chance of winning the World Solar Challenge this year because Nuon, like Michigan in 2007, has suffered from an accident days earlier. With the giant Nuon out of commission, Michigan stands, in my view, as the favorite to win.

Two days into the race, Michigan is now placed third behind Belgian Umicore and Japanese Tokai. Nuon is currently fourth behind Michigan.[1] I am unsure what is happening to team Aurora however.

Nevertheless, this is only the first stage. There are hundreds of mile to go yet. It is way too early to celebrate anything.

What is special about this race is that, for the first time ever, I am in Australia and I will have the opportunity to witness Michigan crossing the finishing line in Adelaide. As I left Malaysia behind on an airplane, that was what I told myself. I want to be in Adelaide when that happened.

I am unsure if I will fulfill that promise that I made to myself. I have papers just a week away from the expected day the race is to end. Travelling to Adelaide from Sydney may require me to sacrifice time that I need to prepare myself for my papers.

Following this race will be exciting. In 2007 and 2008, global position system and blogging tools were heavily used. I think that revolutionized the way individuals track progress. This time, well, we have Twitter.

In any case, to Michigan, to Infinium, I say good luck. Bring the trophy back home to Ann Arbor. It has been long overdue.

As they say it, go fast, go smooth and go Blue!

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[0] — After winning back the Ashes, the Brits are gunning for the World Solar Challenge, the race across Australia for cars powered only by the sun.

A team from Cambridge University has entered the race for the first time and with the backing of new Formula One champion Jenson Button, has immediately been listed among the favourites.

The 3,000km race from Darwin to Adelaide gets underway on Sunday with the leading cars expected in Adelaide a bit over three days later.

Hot favourites are the Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands with their car Nuna 5.

The team holds the race record and has won the past four events.

But organisers say the Dutch will be under pressure this year after a testing accident in Darwin that badly damaged Nuna 5.

The Dutch also face a strong challenge from the University of Michigan’s car Infinium, the Belgium entry from the Umicore Solar Team called Umicar Inspire, Germany’s BoCruiser car from the HS Bochum team, the Swiss entry Heliox II, Australia’s own Aurora 101 and the Cambridge team with its car dubbed Endeavour.The team successfully made it Katherine. They are currently in 3rd place, trailing Tokai and Umicore by 5 minutes. After a roadside pit stop, Nuon is in 4th place trailing by 10 minutes. Weather is sunny so all top teams are hitting speeds between 100KPH and 110KPH. [Brits battle Aussies in solar car race. Tim Dornin. Sydney Morning Herald Tribune. October 23 2009]

[1] — The team successfully made it Katherine. They are currently in 3rd place, trailing Tokai and Umicore by 5 minutes. After a roadside pit stop, Nuon is in 4th place trailing by 10 minutes. Weather is sunny so all top teams are hitting speeds between 100KPH and 110KPH. [Infinium Reaches First Check Point. University of Michigan Solar Car Team. October 24 2009]

Solar car

[1729] Of Michigan, the 5-time champion

Michigan has the most successful solar car team in North America and the 2008 team has proven that yet again.

Fair use. Univ. of Michigan Solar Car Team

Image taken from the The University of Michigan Solar Car Team Blog.

Solar car

[1717] Of Michigan is the first to qualify for the 2008 NASC

A great news from the Michigan team:

My apologies for not posting this update sooner, but I’ve been in and out of the car most of the day. I was in the car when the team completed our first 60 laps of qualifying, quicker than any other team–making us the first team to qualify for NASC! It was a hot and grueling 60 laps during the morning, and I was in the car for over 3.5 hours to prepare for and complete these laps. We were the only team that did not have to exit the track between 9:00 AM and 12:30 AM–a testament to Continuum’s reliability and our team’s strength. [Qualifying Update. The University of Michigan Solar Car Team Blog. July 10 2008]

Zippity doo da, zippity a…!

Solar car

[1424] Of I hate Stanford


For what they did to the UM Solar Car Team:

In the first hour of racing today, Continuum has had an accident. Spencer Bailey was the driver of Continuum, and aside from a small scratch on his leg, he is perfectly fine. After the Stanford Solar Car Team passed our Team, they stopped abruptly, causing our lead driver to stop, and Continuum to hit our lead vehicle.

As for the car, the concentrator canopy is cracked in multiple places and will be replaced with our spare. The front of the car will need to be repaired and the front solar modules replaced. There was also delamination seen in some of the front bulkheads. [Continuum Accident. The University of Michigan Solar Car Team Blog. October 20 2007]

From Stanford’s point of view:

Starting out from Darwin was incredibly hectic, They started solarcars every minute, however, the officials didn’t let the rest of the caravan vehicles know when to leave, so we had to fight though all the other teams out of a parking lot, being blocked by 3 or 4 vehicles for the FH Bochum team (large vans filled with lots and lots of Germans) waiting at the exit for their solarcar and blocking traffic. When Ryan pulled out of the starting line with Equinox, he ended up driving a good 10 minutes unprotected by our lead and chase vehicles through the busy streets of darwin. We ended up catching up with our solarcar as it was sitting in an intersection in the middle of traffic. Incidentally, about a minute after we passed through, University of Michigan’s car had some kind of accident and ended up running into lead and effectively putting them out of the race, which is really too bad, as this year’s team is loads and loads more friendly and outgoing than previous years, at least that’s what we hear. (for an event attended by mostly male engineers, there’s a surprising amount of gossiping that goes on at WSC). [WSC Day 1. Stanford Solar Car. October 21 2007]


I asked about the incident with Michigan and was told that the Stanford convoy never came to a stop and claims no culpability in the collision between their lead vehicle and their solar car. Their race observer agrees. Michigan has started up again and seems to be passing by teams that have even had a day’s head start. We all hope that the race officials grant them a clock reset. [Finally, a call from Australia. Stanford Solar Car Project. October 22 2007]

If you go to Stanford’s blog, seems like they have issues with Michigan. (Stanford friends, I still love you guys!)

Anyway, Michigan finishes 7th because of the accident. Michigan started the race with a clear goal of finishing better than third; Michigan has finished the race third three times but well, seven is better than not finishing at all. As for Stanford, they failed to finish the race. They suffered a terrible accident; the car rolled over! I am glad nobody was hurt.