4-state solar car race to end at High Desert Museum

Public invited to Sunday, July 22 event

BEND, Ore. - On Sunday, July 22, solar car teams racing road rally-style will cross the finish line at the High Desert Museum in the 2018 American Solar Challenge.

The solar cars, which will have traveled more than 1,700 miles across four states, are expected to arrive between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., depending on traffic, weather and energy management decisions made by each of the teams. The event is free and open to the public.

The American Solar Challenge teams will launch on Saturday, July 14 from Omaha, Nebraska and follow portions of the Oregon National Historic Trail and other trails through Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. The biennial race will feature approximately a dozen collegiate solar car teams from across the U.S., as well as from Canada, Australia and Italy.

The 2018 challenge will help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System and the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. Fun, hands-on activities will take place inside and outside of the Museum sharing what life was like for those crossing the Oregon Trail.

“July 22 will be an amazing day at the Museum,” High Desert Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw said. “Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the world that people faced more than a century ago on the Oregon Trail and also to witness innovative, modern technology in action as the solar cars cross the finish line.”

A number of special activities will take place within the museum. Visitors can both pack a wagon, and then build a wagon and take it on a “sample section” of the trail. Other Oregon Trail-themed activities will be underway include cooking, log cabin building and more. A high school solar car team will also be at the Museum to meet guests.

Representatives from the National Park Service, Oregon-California Trails Association and Oregon State University-Cascades will be at the Museum as well, offering activities centered around the race and the trails.


Every two years, the Innovators Educational Foundation (IEF) organizes the American Solar Challenge, a collegiate student design competition to design, build and drive solar-powered vehicles in a cross-country time/distance event. New in 2018, there will be two types of solar vehicles in the competition: the traditional single-occupant vehicles with space only for the driver and the new multi-occupant vehicles capable of transporting passengers and cargo. 

Visit the American Solar Challenge 2018 competition page for more information and a current list of registered teams. All solar cars go through a qualifying process the week prior to the American Solar Challenge, resulting in a final team list for the event.

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