Team PrISUm shows speed despite overheating, electrical problems

It was a fast and slow first day of the Tulsa-to-Chicago American Solar Challenge for Team PrISUm.

Electrical problems caused enough roadside stops that the team's solar-powered car missed the first race checkpoint in Neosho, Mo., by six minutes.

That will mean a one-hour time penalty. But team members know they have a car that can make up some ground in this year's 14-car field.

"Our car is really fast," said Pat Sanderson, a senior from Iowa City who's majoring in mechanical engineering and is the team's project director. "We just need to get our electrical stuff sorted and we'll be a really, really competitive car."

Sanderson said overheating was a big problem on the first day of racing. Hot weather is making it very difficult to keep the battery pack cool enough to operate. The overheating was so bad the team had to take the pack into a Subway sandwich shop for a little air conditioning.

Even so, Sanderson said Iowa State's car - named Anthelion after the rare halo that sometimes appears opposite the sun - averaged 60 mph during short stretches of the race.

Team members want to see more of that speed. So they worked on solutions late into Sunday night at their campsite near Diamond, Mo.

They'll put their solutions to the test when they start day two of the 1,100-mile race early Monday. The next race checkpoint is Topeka, Kan.

News Service will provide daily updates of the American Solar Challenge. Team PrISUm is also updating a race blog here. You can follow the team on Twitter here. You can also find team pictures here.