On the road with Sunsetters
A Day In The Life of
a solar car Strategist

Sunday, July 22

Bill Totenhagen

The Strategist wakes up in the morning from a blissful sleep and rubs his tired eyes. It takes a few minutes for the onset of crushing apprehension to set in. Immediately the Strategist springs into action, watching the clouds and desperately searching for any weather information he can gather. The early morning hours are primarily spent orienting the solar array towards the sun and watching in disbelief as one cloud seemingly blocks the sun for hours. The Strategist then tries to calculate how the car will run. This is sometimes a challenge, as the rookie team has had little opportunity to test the car. As sleepy teammates begin to arise, the Strategist begins to answer questions. A few at first, but eventually the floodgates open . . . “How fast are we going to go today?” . . . “Where are we going to stop?” . . . “How are the batteries doing?” . . . “Will we need to trailer?” On a good day, the Strategist may be able to actually answer half of the questions. On most days, the Strategist must diligently try and explain the dependence on the weather, road conditions, etc. The questioning teammate typically responds to an attempted explanation with a look of disgust. They are generally left with the impression that the Strategist is a complete moron. As the actual race day progresses, the Strategist anxiously monitors the telemetry data, which spits out information dealing with the car’s performance. The Strategist’s spirits rise and fall with the stream of numbers flying across the computer’s screen. Occasionally the telemetry spits out a series of ridiculous numbers to keep the Strategist on his toes. Still more questions are asked . . . “What is the battery voltage at?” . . . “What is our current draw?” . . . “Will we make it to the next checkpoint on time?” . . . The worried Strategist must try and placate the interrogators with the appropriate number and an optimistic remark. Eventually, the race takes over and everyone concentrates on the dynamics of coordinating a five-vehicle armada across the frontage roads of the American Southwest. At the end of the day, the Strategist must face another round of questions and second-guessing. It is amazing how many perfect strategies arise at the end of the day. Calmly the Strategist must face the questions and criticisms with the knowledge the he did the best that he could at the time that decisions needed to be made. As the evening rolls in, the Strategist dozes off with the sweet dreams of a solar car that is flying down the interstate passing cars left and right without using energy. Sunny skies and cheering teammates gently pull the Strategist into a blissful sleep.

Back to ASC 2001 update page