Race Day Two: Quick Fixes and Fast Friends

Electrical System, Featured, Texas / Friday, July 23rd, 2021

One of our horns literally blew out yesterday — so we’re definitely on the right track. (Quick rule clarification for our viewers not familiar with the race rules: solar cars racing on the Texas Motor Speedway are required to sound their horn when they pass a slower car.) Yeah. We were passing so often on the track that our horn stopped working. Thankfully, we were able to switch to our spare horn we installed in anticipation of this very problem.

On day two of the race, we raked in 447 miles around the Texas Motor Speedway. Our success was achieved in large part due to our first-rate strategy team making accurate predictions about our remaining main battery voltage and charging capacity at the end of the day. 

Team Captain Hailin Truman (10) rounds turn two, performing a quick pass on another car.

Day two presented some unique challenges for the team. On top of the short showers of rain that threatened to send the Advanced Division cars off the track, the car experienced a number of spontaneous shutdowns due to a malfunction in our twelve-volt electrical system. The pit crew found a temporary patch for the issue by lowering the intensity of the driver fans, but the whole team got to work on the issue immediately after the car rolled off the track. After an hour of work, we discovered that one of the connectors between the supplemental battery — the power source of the twelve-volt system — had come loose. After repairing the connector, we replaced the broken horn, then we performed a routine tire inspection and replacement on the front two tires.

Nigel Barnett (12) remarks on the turbulent experience from that day: “Between our mentor experiencing heat exhaustion and our car shutting down due to the twelve-volt system malfunctioning, it was a pretty bleak day for the entire team. Towards the end of the day, the energy in the pit wasn’t great. Thankfully, our team is extremely resourceful and quickly addressed the problem. Extensive testing of the car before we arrived in Texas definitely helped us get back on track.”

As the sun fell over the Texas Motor Speedway, many of the team members interacted with the two or three teams that stuck around to prepare their cars for the next day. We had great conversations with amazing teams like the MISD Shine Runners from Mansfield, Texas and the Holy Solars from Kent, Connecticut. The clouds were nowhere to be seen Tuesday afternoon; with a clear sky, we were able to increase our battery percentage from ~52% to 95% just before the race the following morning.

From left to right: Judge Neil Hamlin, Nigel Barnett (12), Hailin Truman (10), Emily Batig (10), Lucien Freemesser (10), Timothy Jou (9), and Whittaker Grant (10) attend the car during its regular afternoon charge.

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