Weather in Solar Car Racing

There is more to solar car racing than just planning and building a solar electric vehicle. The name of the game is strategy. Strategy is getting all aspects of construction to "come together" before a race; strategy is understanding your vehicle through intensive testing prior to the race; strategy is understanding the topographical road conditions along the race course; and strategy is understanding how much "sun" you are going to have along that race course.

To this end, an understanding of meteorology is essential. The team that has the best information about opportunities for getting sun can adjust their driving plan to take advantage of these opportunities. For example, during the 1999 Winston Solar Challenge (Dallas to Los Angeles), teams had to cross New Mexico and Arizona during their monsoon season. This is characterized by clouds in the early morning and late afternoon overcast. To be successful, the teams had to realize that they had to limit their running and sun collection to a window of 10:00 AM - 3:30 PM. Those teams hoping to get late afternoon or early morning sun were soon running on empty.

The Solar Car Challenge provides teams comprehensive weather information. This includes basic weather instruction during Workshops, as well as detailed weather forecasts during the races. It is up to the individual team to make use of the information and to establish their strategy.

DTN has graciously donated their services to the Solar Car Challenge to help make weather information available to teams during the races.

Solar Car Challenge Weather Sponsors
Forecasts, IR Satellite Data, Doppler, Surface Conditions