Solar cars to start journey in Wise County

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, July 20, 2013

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If you’re driving Texas 114 around Boyd Tuesday morning, you may see an array of strange-looking vehicles heading west – without the benefit of fossil fuel.

They’re solar cars, and they’re on the first leg of a long journey.

The 2013 Solar Car Challenge begins Tuesday at 9 a.m. in front of the Northwest ISD administration building on Texas 114. The 14 cars and their entourage will head west through Boyd to Farm Road 51 just south of Decatur, where they will turn toward Springtown and Weatherford. There, they’ll get on Texas 180 and go west.

Through most of the eight-day race, the 14 teams of high school students will be under solar power, traveling at speeds up to 30 or 35 miles per hour.

After stops in Snyde, El Paso, Carlsbad, N.M., Florence and Wickenburg, Ariz., and 29 Palms, Calif., they’re due in Los Angeles July 30.

Seven Texas high schools, including Northwest ISD’s Byron Nelson, have teams in this year’s race. Others are from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and California.

The Solar Car Challenge is a 20-year-old nonprofit program designed to help motivate students in science, engineering and alternative energy.

Founder and president Dr. Lehman Marks said the teams began preparation for the year-long project during workshops held last September. More workshops, on-site visits and mentor opportunities resulted in around 40 teams heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the 2013 Challenge.

This weekend, they’ll be at Texas Motor Speedway and the DFW Marriot, putting the final touches on the cars and running qualifying laps. There’s a banquet Saturday evening and a final “scrutineering” at the track on Monday before the journey starts Tuesday morning.

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