Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
March 5, 1999

Solar car team employs new race strategy

by Arianna McKinney, News Service intern

Herb Harmison, a retired Iowa State engineering placement director, and his wife, Esther, have hit the road to give Iowa State's solar car team a strategic boost. They left Ames March 2 to drive and videotape the SunRayce 99 route, which stretches 1,300 miles from Washington, D.C., to the Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla.

The Harmisons volunteered to tape the route after a recent presentation at an ISU Retirees meeting. Jeff Lanning, Team PrISUm's strategy team leader, told the group a videotape of the race route would help the team.

The Harmisons understand the importance of strategy. "Our son is a sports car racer," Herb Harmison said. "When he comes to an unfamiliar track, the first thing he does is walk it or drive it slowly so he knows where the bumps and curves are."

Some of the equipment the Harmisons are using has been donated to the solar car team by Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids. Other items, such as the video camera, were modified by team members.

The team will use the video of the race route to identify speed zones and stop signs and determine at what speeds to run the car during each point of the course. This will help the team optimize the performance of its car, said team director Allen Ihlefeld.

Sunrayce is a biennial North American solar car race that is open to college and university students.

It will take the solar car team 10 days (June 20-29) to complete the race. The Harmisons hope to do it in three or four days.

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