SolarQuestTM 98
Tour de Sol Adventure Quest

I-NetNews Reports
May 9


In Lyndonville VT at the Riverside Elementary School, students worked after school and during vacation to create a competitive vehicle for the 1998 Tour de Sol. Their final product: A solar powered VW Bus.

Two buses were donated to the school, one a 1971 and the other a 1974. The students worked hard to put the parts of the 74’ on the 71’ body, which was redone. Next step was to convert it to electric. They looked around for sponsors, hoping to receive money and even better hardware such as batteries. They succeeded at both and they had their work laid out for them.

The bus is powered by 26 solar panels that charge the 20 twelve volt Deka Dominator Jell Cell batteries and a General Electric 21 horsepower traction motor. The motor is rated at 6000 rpm’s, and can travel at speeds over 60 mph. Due to this it can travel over 60 miles on a single charge. That’s flower power!

Ama Baer and Ed Sisino


The Last Olympian is an electric car project which was started in 1996 by two Cinnaminson New Jersey High school girls, Michelle Torchinsky and Jessie Sulivan. The Olympian was entered into the Tour de Sol in 1996, but was unfortunately disqualified during the pre race testing because of a failure in the shock system. So after a year of lying dormant in the garage, this electric vehicle is back in 1998, fully revamped with both new parts and a new all-girl team.

The team is very concerned about the way that American automotive corporations are continually "wasting precious resources." The only males in the team are the driver and the coach. The girls seem to be scared to drive the car.

The body of the car is a 1986 Ford escort, which was donated by Robert Minniti. It runs off twenty-two rechargeable batteries worth over $5,000. Ten of the batteries were donated to them. The crew purchased the remaining batteries by raising a lot of money from local businesses. They also replaced everything from a cracked windshield to flat tires. After three months of work, they have made it to the race. This time they have passed all of the tests and are excited to begin the race as are all of the contestants here.

Model Ford Escort
Total weight (with driver and battery): 4580pounds
Peak horsepower: 100
Tires Goodyear Eagle GT 2(13")
Drag coefficient 0.4

Chris Bogart


Last year Union Endicott High School from New York State was disappointed to realize that their solar car would not be ready in time to compete in Tour de Sol. This year, their technology club has been working since September to insure that their car will be ready for the race. And it is! We spoke to the driver, Scott Brazinski, who graduated last year but has returned to participate in the race. He hopes to pursue a career in energy-efficient automobile technology. Solar Tiger II, complete with three wheels and a Phish sticker, is ready to go.

Cassie Tharinger and Diana Parker

Tests conducted on May 8, 1998, revealed that an average electrically powered car, driven the same distance as a common gasoline car, used 1/7 as much energy, while producing zero emissions.

Cassie Tharinger


Two years ago Shadow Mt. High School placed second overall in Tour de Sol. This year they are back with Electric Bull, their battery powered car. We spoke to Jesse James, president of Sunbelt Battery Company, the company that provided the batteries for the car. Students took a donated 1972 Porsche 914 and spent 18 to 20 months working outside of school to fix it up. The car travels130 miles before it needs recharging and can reach top speeds of 95 to 100 mph. They will not be testing those speeds in the race, as it uses too much power. Chelle Myrann will enjoy her drive with some tunes and other luxury accessories they have added. Shadow Mt. High School competes frequently in electric car races along the West coast and hope to beat their previous record this year.

Diana Parker and Cassie Tharinger

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