AMES, Iowa -- A team at Iowa State is back on campus after making solar racing history. For the first time, Team PrISUm won the overall first place trophy at the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Texas.
“It's very aerodynamic. A lot of people say it looks like a boat or an airplane,” said Matt Goode, Team PrISUm Project Director.
The solar car named Phaeton was designed and built by Iowa State students for the track. Using as much power as a hair dryer, the car can go up to 70 miles an hour on pure sunlight.
ISU students put the $350,000 car to the test for a three-day competition at the Circuit of Americas Formula 1 track. Goode says he was a “little nervous” after the first day.
“Day two, we started to pull away. That's when we really started to see a gain in competition and we started feeling confident,” he said.
Danny Goldman was in the driver's seat of Phaeton on the third and final day.
“We knew we had it in the bag, but it was just the excitement of watching that flag wave as we're crossing the finish line. It was just exhilarating,” said Goldman.
The team credits the win on building a reliable car and by taking a gamble on what’s under the hood. Students decided to use a battery pack that works well in high temperatures, but doesn’t hold as much energy.
“We could keep driving around the track putting on laps. Every other team had to pull over and take their tops offs, cool down the vehicle, when we were able to keep lapping,” explained Goode.
Team PrISUm racked up 223 laps over 24 hours of racing.
The students are working on building a new car for next year's solar competition. The team is also hoping to compete on the world stage in Australia in 2017.