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Aug. 12, 2005

Fusion finishes third in its class

by Mike Krapfl

Fusion did Austin to Calgary in 71.5 hours. That's 2,494.9 miles through sun and clouds, loose wires and an overly sensitive battery protection system, through city traffic and tiny towns, boring days in the chase vehicle and chilly nights in a semi trailer.

But all that was good for third place for Team PrISUm in the stock class of the North American Solar Challenge, the world's longest solar car race.

Iowa State's student-built solar car finished behind Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, in the race's stock class. Fusion trailed the Stanford car by 3.5 hours.

Fusion finished 11th in the overall standings. It also trailed eight cars in the more powerful open class. The University of Michigan won the overall title, beating the University of Minnesota by 12 minutes.

"We're happy to get third," said team member Tom Noonan, a junior from Berthoud, Colo., who's studying computer engineering. "But we would have liked to get first in our class."

Twenty university teams started the solar car race on July 17 in Austin, Texas. Only 14 cars drove all the way to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The team was honored during an Aug. 2 reception outside the solar car team garage in Old Sweeney.

solar car student drivers

Team PrISUm members Kate Muhlbauer (standing) and Ryan Ellis (prone in the car) completed all the Fusion driving duties during the 2005 North American Solar Car Challenge. During six-hour shifts, the drivers used an air tube, ice packs on their torsos and a 2-liter water bottle to try to stay comfortable in interior temperatures that reached 120 degrees. Photo by Bob Elbert.


Iowa State's Fusion solar car finished third in the stock class, 11th overall, of the 2,495-mile 2005 North American Solar Challenge.