Event History

American Solar Challenge

The American Solar Challenge originated in 1990 with Sunrayce USA, the start of organized solar car “raycing” in the United States. Sunrayce was born as a result of GM’s Sunraycer solar car winning the first World Solar Challenge in 1987. Rather than continue to compete, GM turned their experience in Australia into a collegiate event in the United States, encouraging teams of students to design and build a solar powered vehicle. Additional Sunrayce events were held in 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999. The format for Sunrayce was a series of one-day stages along a predetermined route, including a rest day in the middle of the event.

In 2001, with a change in sponsorship also came a new name, the American Solar Challenge (ASC). ASC also brought a new format to the event, introducing multi-day stages, higher mileages, and no rest days. In 2001 and 2003, the race route followed Historic Route 66 from Chicago to the Los Angeles area. In 2005 and 2008, two special editions of the race were held, named the North American Solar Challenge, as the route went from Texas, US to Alberta, Canada. With 10-11 day durations, 2500+ miles, and only a few stage points, teams were spread out over hundreds of miles.

Continuing under the ASC name, 2010 marked another change in the event, moving to two-day stages. Every day, all of the teams would either start together or finish together at the same location. This kept the solar cars closer together for interested public and media coverage while allowing for greater camaraderie among the teams.

A list of the cross country solar car events held to date:

  • 1990 – GM Sunrayce USA – Orlando, FL to Warren, MI
  • 1993 – Sunrayce93 – Arlington, TX to Minneapolis, MN
  • 1995 – Sunrayce95 – Indianapolis, IN to Golden, CO
  • 1997 – Sunrayce97 – Indianapolis, IN to Colorado Springs, CO
  • 1999 – Sunrayce99 – Washington, D.C. to Orlando, FL
  • 2001 – American Solar Challenge 2001 – Chicago, IL to Claremont, CA
  • 2003 – American Solar Challenge 2003 – Chicago, IL to Claremont, CA
  • 2005 – North American Solar Challenge 2005 – Austin, TX to Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 2008 – North American Solar Challenge 2008 – Plano, TX to Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 2010 – American Solar Challenge 2010 – Broken Arrow, OK to Naperville, IL
  • 2012 – American Solar Challenge 2012 – Rochester, NY to St. Paul, MN
  • 2014 – American Solar Challenge 2014 – Austin, TX to Minneapolis, MN
  • 2016 – American Solar Challenge 2016 – Brecksville, OH to Hot Springs, SD

Formula Sun Grand Prix

Beginning in 2000, a track event, Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP), was formalized. Traditionally completing laps on a track was required to qualify for the road event. However, this new event would be held annually to enable newer teams and team members to gain experience during off-ASC years. On years which included an ASC, FSGP would serve both as the qualifier and a race in itself, encouraging teams to complete as many miles as possible.

Formula Sun Grand Prix events held to date:

  • 2000 – Heartland Park in Topeka, KS
  • 2001 – Heartland Park in Topeka, KS
  • 2002 – Heartland Park in Topeka, KS
  • 2003 – Heartland Park in Topeka, KS
  • 2004 – Heartland Park in Topeka, KS
  • 2005 – Heartland Park in Topeka, KS
  • 2008 – Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX
  • 2009 – Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX
  • 2010 – Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX
  • 2011 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN
  • 2012 – Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, NY
  • 2013 – Circuit of The Americas in Austin, TX
  • 2014 – Circuit of The Americas in Austin, TX
  • 2015 – Circuit of The Americas in Austin, TX
  • 2016 – Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Pittsburgh, PA