ASC 2010: Formula Sun, Day 3
We finished in third place at this year's Formula Sun Grand Prix and American Solar Challenge qualifier! Official results can be found here.
The third and final day of Formula Sun was fairly calm, compared to the psat two days. More clouds in the sky prevented teams from driving as fast as they had in the first two days, and barring major accidents, it was pretty clear that the finishing order was going to be Michigan and Bochum in the first and second places, respectively. All of the teams were just trying to put more laps on our cars to wring out all of the bugs, and get the drivers more comfortable in the cars.
The Texas heat and hard throttle/hard braking racetrack driving has been taking its toll on our battery ventilation system; near the end of every day we've had to slow down to keep our battery from overheating. The last day of racing was the hottest yet, which caused our battery to hit its temperature limit earlier, as well as caused worries about the motor controller temperature. Our old NGM EVC-200 may be one of the oldest active motor controllers in solar car racing, and as it's the only one we have left, we don't want to damage it. In light of this, with one hour of racing left in the day, we pulled off to swap for Sam's custom "Uber Controller", which performed admirably on the track. The team is very proud to say that we have the ability to drive with our own custom motor controller.
We were initially concerned that Calgary might make a run for our third place spot, but they only drove about 11 laps today. As it turns out, while their wheels are prefectly fine for straight-line highway driving, they can't handle the racetrack cornering loads of their heavy car. They destroyed one wheel, and two more are no longer safe to drive with. In light of this, they elected to save their remaining wheels for the highway, leaving us to take third place in the 2010 FSGP relatively unchallenged.
Northwestern, Kaohsiung, New Paltz, Illinois State, and Texas Austin were all out on the track for basically the entire day turning laps, with Missouri S&T, Stanford, and Western Michigan making it out for a while as well. In fact, only two teams did not drive at all today: Iowa State and Kentucky.
Iowa State was having major issues with their battery protection and primary power bus; Sam was camped out in their pit basically all day getting them set for the road race. Fortunately, they had gotten qualified the previous day, so this wasn't as large a setback as it could have been.
Kentucky sheered off one of their aluminum axles on the track yesterday. Despite their best efforts to get steel replacent ones machined in time to get on the track today, the replacent parts showed up about an hour too late for them to be able to get on the track today. Kentucky did not drive enough laps to qualify for ASC. Western Michigan also failed ot drive enough laps, and we haven't heard anything from them or the officials about what's going to happen with these two teams.
Unfortunately, Oregon State will not be driving the road race with us. Despite the best efforts of almost all of the teams in attendance, a combination of mechanical and electrical issues proved to be impossible to overcome. Our hearts go out to them, and we wish them the best of luck next year.
Senior Crew Chief
June 18, 2010