UM wins 6th consecutive solar car championship

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

The Maize and Blue’s solar car dynasty has been extended another year.

The University of Michigan’s Solar Car team won the American Solar Challenge on Saturday, the sixth straight time. It’s the ninth time UM team has won the race.

It took the team’s vehicle, the Aurum, about 481/2hours to finish the eight-day, 1,975 mile course from Brecksville, Ohio, to Hot Springs, South Dakota, according to the race’s organizers. Aurum is the Latin word for gold.

UM’s car crossed the finish line at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday to beat out 23 other solar-powered electric vehicles built by college teams, despite nearly sunless conditions on the race’s final two days.

“We were worried about physically getting to the finish,” said Shihaab Punia, team leader and junior in computer engineering. “Out of all the teams, we were the only ones that went entire race on solar power alone.”

Punia said he believes this race will go down in UM solar car history.

“We always talk about some of the great races in the past,” he said. “To be part of one that’s been different — to have a completely sunless last two days of the race — to go through something unique, it’s going to add the legacy of Michigan Solar Car. Incoming team members this fall, two years, even three years from now, will be hearing about this race.”