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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Kansas City metro had its share of the sun this week. It turns out that is great news for teams competing in the American Solar Challenge.

Collegiate teams compete in the road race across the Oregon National Historic Trail every year or two. The race starts in Independence and ends in Twin Falls, Idaho. Teams make stops in communities along the way.

The competition isn’t just about fun.

The Innovators Educational Foundation and National Park Service challenge collegiate students to compete in designing, building and driving a solar-powered vehicle across the country.

This year, teams have the opportunity to drive additional loops in certain areas to increase their distance. The extra distance will allow teams to show the capabilities of their energy-efficient vehicles, according to organizers.

Teams built one of two types of vehicles. There are traditional vehicles that only carry the driver. The other type of vehicle can carry more and are also scored on how practical they are.

“For us it’s making something practical. It’s less about the precision and aerodynamics and you can tell from our car, we just want something that feels like a car, runs like a car. We would love to be able to see sustainable solar vehicles on the road in the next 10 years, as commercial vehicles,” Sean Riordan, Appalachian State University Solar Vehicle Team, said.

The race officially begins when the cars leave the Independence Square on Saturday, July 9 at 9 a.m. The race will stop in the following locations:

  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Grand Island, Nebraska
  • Gering, Nebraska
  • Casper, Wyoming
  • Lander, Wyoming
  • Montpelier, Idaho
  • Pocatello, Idaho
  • Twin Falls, Idaho

The events at each stop are free and open to the public.

You can follow the progress of the solar cars on the American Solar Challenge Facebook page.

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