A team of Central Oregon high school students who built a solar car are improvising after the race they were involved in this week was suddenly canceled.
The 950-mile Solar Car Challenge was called off Wednesday. A large number of staff members running the Texas-to-California race tested positive for COVID-19. That’s according to senior Caden Cooper, captain of the Oregon Solar Car Team.
The race was cut short. The Oregon team finished second in the advanced division with 353.2 miles traveled.
But the Oregon team decided they wanted to keep racing and looked at their options.
“We’re about solving problems, so let’s look at what our problems are and see what solutions we can come up with,” team advisor Tom Stueve said, according to Cooper.
First option: Finish the course on their own. They crossed that idea off the list.
Second option: See if there were any closed tracks between El Paso and Los Angeles that would let the team use their track to get some more driving in.
After cold calling tracks for 2 1/2 hours, they found one in Florence, Ariz., called Podium Club that said ‘yes.’ The team will drive their car on the track from 7:00-9:00 a.m. Friday.
Then, the team will travel to the Indie Motorsport track about an hour away to race some more on Saturday.
Another option the team looked at was find a big, open parking lot somewhere. Concordia University Irvine has given the team the go-ahead use its big parking lot for some driving and exhibition. Cooper said they may add that on Sunday.
“We are now solidifying our plans and working on the car,” Cooper said in an email to Central Oregon Daily Wednesday afternoon. “Just 4 hours ago. we thought we were headed home, but through teamwork and perseverance we now have our own ‘solar car challenge.'”
The students are from Mountain View, Caldera and Trinity Lutheran high schools and Baker online academy.