High schoolers drive solar cars at Texas Motor Speedway

FORT WORTH — The blistering sun is a mixed blessing for teens racing hand-crafted solar cars around Texas Motor Speedway.

While sunshine is great for generating solar energy, extreme temperatures can affect the performance of solar cells, which work best at about 75 degrees, officials said.

With temperatures topping 100 degrees again Tuesday, 16 teams of high school students from 10 states launched a four-day competition with cars they designed and built.

Unlike most events at the speedway, this "race" is not about speed. The team that racks up the most laps on the 1.5-mile oval wins. Last year’s winners went about 400 laps.

"It’s nice to have clear skies because the batteries will charge. Solar cells work better when it is cooler," said Lehman Marks, the event’s director. "You’re going to lose 15 to 17 percent of efficiency when it’s so hot."

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