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Formula Sun Grand Prix Comes To Austin

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014, 06:52 PM CDT

The sun had better be shining next week. That's when Austin is hosting the 14th annual Formula Sun Grand Prix. The brightest minds from colleges and universities around the world, including the University of Texas, will race solar-powered electric cars. 

Buckled up and ready to roll. Konrad Werzman squeezed into the driver's seat for his first lap on the Circuit of the Americas racetrack. This July, Formula One is taking a backseat to Formula Sun. 

"You don't have air conditioning, you don't have power steering," said Werzman. 

The electrical engineering major at the University of Texas is behind the wheel of a stripped down racing car. 

"There's no real seat in there. It's just a piece of Styrofoam," said Werzman.

UT's entry weighs in at 475 pounds and has to get 100 percent of its power from the sun. 

"We're trying to keep this as aerodynamic and as light weight as possible because we're racing," said the UT junior. 

Twenty-three student teams, from colleges and universities around the world, race cars that max out around 60 mph. All use less power than a hair dryer that comes from the solar cells covering every inch of the long, lean machines. 

UT is prepping for next week's COTA qualifier. 

"First place, always aiming for the top," said Werzman. 

If all goes as planned, Werzman already knows what will be the biggest challenge for the eight day, seven state, 1,700 mile race. 

"Getting enough sleep," said the TexSun driver. 

The public is invited to check out the solar-powered action on Saturday, July 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at COTA. All cars that qualify there, then head out on a cross-country race that determines who can go the furthest the fastest.

By Bettie Cross

Formula Sun Grand Prix Comes To Austin

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