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U Of Minn. Solar Car Places 2nd In 1,700-Mile Race

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the racers in the American Solar Challenge, just finishing the course is a major accomplishment.

The race started in Austin, Texas, last Monday. After eight days on the road, and 1,700 miles through seven states, the University of Michigan racer crossed the finish line in Minnesota first.

The University of Minnesota team finished second.

“Exhausting, you know, we were constantly working on the car, maintaining it, making sure it’s ready to race,” said Jake Fratzke, with the Michigan team.

As soon as each car stops along the race route, it gets a safety check.

Then, the hot driver is allowed to get out.

“On hotter days, it can get like, over 100 degrees in there, and that’s not exactly fun,” said Michael Ellis, with the University of Minnesota team.

Building and maintaining the racers is a group effort, which is why every team runs the last city block with their car.

The Gopher team has a reason to be proud.

“Even just getting this far is amazing,” Ellis said. “Getting second is really nice.”

The solar racers have small batteries on board which keep the cars moving when it’s cloudy.

The University of Minnesota car weighs just 390 pounds.

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