It is just beyond the end of the third day of the University of Michigan’s Solar Car Teammock race around the Lower Peninsula. (All in preparation for the World Solar Challenge) It was a day for Murphy’s Law (and subsequently little driving) but it was also a day of invaluable learning experiences for the whole team.
The morning started out with a run-in with a nasty pothole just outside of Traverse City. The team spent the day laid up, laying-up carbon fiber and resin. They were setting about the business of repairing the damage to the fender moments after it happened.
Since they were ahead of schedule by roughly four hours - and team member Cole Witte’s family had a serviceable garage nearby, the team decided to take their time and make improvements beyond simple fixes. Besides, one doesn’t rush things when high temperatures and beastly humidity delays the time it takes the materials to set up and bond.
Once things were put in order, a trip to the Traverse Bay and the hospitality of generous local Bob Friess seemed to put a fine cap on a trying day. Burgers, fresh Michigan sweet corn and lots of warm smiles eased the disappointment.
Mere moments before the horse was in the barn, Mr. Murphy struck again. This time, a roof-mounted instrument designed to gauge solar output grazed a low-hanging communications line. The line fell and all motion stopped. For all the group knew at the time, it was possibly a live wire.
True to form and with level-headed leadership, the team was almost placid as they responsibly waited for the authorities to arrive. It bears mentioning that the police and emergency responders were kind and respectful. One even admitted to being a fan of the Solar Car Team, he almost seemed happy to be on this uneventful call.
As the night turns into morning, the last diehards run through plans, discuss strategy and reflect on the day that Murphy and his law had their way. But the victors push forward as they always do… valiantly.
Who knows what tomorrow’s leg of the mock race will bring? We plan on skirting Lake Huron as the team pushes the fully charged Quantum to the limit. Be sure to follow@UMSolarCarTeam and @UMengineering on twitter for real-time updates.
By Matt Nixon: email@example.com