On the road with Sunsetters
What do you do when things go bad when racing a solar car across the U.S.? You send out a call to DDT. When the call is received DDT races to the scene, the car is swiftly loaded and the race is on to make it to the checkpoint, or out run the clouds.
Matt Smith and Joe Koehler are the heart and soul of the trailer crew. They have come to be known as DDT, which is short for Deuce Deuce Truck. DDT is an integral part of the strategy for Sunsetters. The American Solar Challenge is made up of a series of checkpoints that a team must complete at an average of 25 miles per hour. If a team is not able to make the checkpoint before it closes, they have the option of trying to make the next checkpoint at a higher speed, or loading the car into the trailer and hauling it to the next checkpoint. In the early stages of the race the trailer was used to make several checkpoints when the low batteries made it impossible to drive the car to the checkpoint. The strategy team also used the trailer to strategically trailer when one checkpoint was at a significantly lower elevation then the following checkpoint.
When the car leaves a checkpoint or starts off in the morning, Matt and Joe push the car to the starting line where they join the people gathered around to give the caravan a good sendoff. Once the car is on itís way, Matt, Joe and a member of the team who is rotated in, talk with interested people as the car drives down the route. To reduce the number of vehicles slowing traffic, the DDT allows the car to move down the route and then leapfrogs ahead to stay within radio contact. Once ahead of the caravan, Matt and Joe find a suitable spot to pull over and wait for the car to pass so that they can get good video shots and pictures, as well as show support to the team.
Because DDT is considered the prime spot to be, other members of the team each get their chance to join Matt and Joe in their adventures. After a day of seeing the sights and taking pictures DDT often goes ahead to meet the scout and find a good location for charging. If all goes well DDT will be the unseen part of the team as we race to Claremont, CA.