Team PrISUm races to second place finish at Formula Sun Grand Prix

Hyperion races

Team PrISUm's Hyperion races around a New York race track. Larger photo. Photo by American Solar Challenge.

AMES, Iowa – Thursday’s scoreboard makes it very clear: Team PrISUm has designed and built a fast and solid solar race car that keeps getting better.

During the three-day Formula Sun Grand Prix around the Monticello Motor Club in New York, Iowa State University’s solar car team recorded daily totals of 125, 146 and 155 laps. Thursday’s performance was just three laps short of the best daily performance of the entire race. The team also turned the fastest lap of the race: 2 minutes, 18 seconds.

The team’s 426 laps around the 1.6-mile track was good for second place. The University of Michigan – winners of the past four American cross-country races and the third-place finisher in last year’s world race in Australia – won with 449 laps.

“It feels great,” said Evan Stumpges, the Team PrISUm project director and a May graduate in mechanical engineering. “We’re in a good position to start the cross-country race on Saturday.”

That July 14-21 race will take student solar car teams 1,650 miles across eight states and eight days. Teams will start in Rochester, N.Y., and finish in St. Paul, Minn.

Everything – even the tire changes – is pointing to a good showing for the Iowa Staters.

Stumpges said the team has a three-tire change down to about six minutes. Last year, before the team redesigned wheels and suspension pieces, tire changes could take as long as 30 minutes.

All in all, “It’s looking real good,” Stumpges said. “I hope the weather cooperates. We’ve been getting good sun and tons of power from our array.”

The qualifying race also points to a good battle between Hyperion, Iowa State’s car, and Quantum, Michigan’s car.

“It was a lot of fun,” Stumpges said. “We were going back and forth. We were passing them and they were passing us. It has been an honor to be in their league this year.”