IMAGE: SOLAR DRAG RACE CAR
Solar Car Race
A Brooks Solar team member prepares its racer for the Solar Drag race.
msnbc.com
updated 6/30/2006 3:30:15 PM ET 2006-06-30T19:30:15

It might not sound like much: covering 250 yards in 57 seconds, but try doing it with four wheels and a chassis made out of solar cells.

That was the challenge at the second annual Solar Drag Race, a one-day event held last Saturday in Wenatchee, Wash., and described by organizers as the one and only solar-powered drag race in the world.

The challenge was made more difficult by rules that barred any batteries that would boost the power coming directly from the sun.

"Unlike other solar race events, solar drag racers do not use batteries or other pre-energized devices," said organizer Jim White, senior energy services engineer for the Chelan County Public Utility District in Wenatchee. "The racers' only fuel source is sunshine captured by the vehicle over the quarter kilometer distance."

A team called Brooks Solar won the open division, covering the 250 yards in 57 seconds, while nearby Chehalis High School won the school division and Central Washington University won the college category.

It turns out those teams were the only competitors, but that didn't discourage organizers, who see a sunny future.

"The event will grow each year as more and more people become aware" of it, predicted White.

The student teams each received a $1,000 college scholarship provided by REC Silicon, a major producer of silicon used to make solar cells.

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