Dallas pileup delays solar car team

Published on Sunday, 21 July 2013 23:42 - Written by

By FAITH HARPER

fharper@tylerpaper.com

A group of Bullard High school students competing in the Winston Solar Car Challenge spent Sunday tweaking and fixing their solar-powered car after it received minor damage in a Dallas pileup.

Tabitha Hippler, mother of a student competing in the challenge, said the accident happened near Fort Worth Saturday evening.

The students were towing the car in a covered trailer to the Texas Motor Speedway, where each car would be tested to ensure its viability in the race, which runs from Texas to Los Angeles, Calif.

On the wet roads near Fort Worth, the truck was unable to stop in time, Hippler said. Most of the damage was to the truck carrying the solar car and not to the car itself.

Four students were involved, but no one was injured, she said.

“It shook them up,” Mrs. Hippler said. “They checked the trailer (and) were scared to check the car itself in the trailer.”

The covering on the car had to be patched, but there was no damage to the frame or mechanical parts, she said. The truck also still was drivable, but the trailer hitch was broken and the bed of the truck was pushed against the cab. Mrs. Hippler said the biggest worry was the alignment. She said she expected it would be taken to a repairman for a look today.

The truck will make the journey with the car and periodically tow the solar car if weather conditions are not favorable or in the case of a break down.

“It’s all been fixable, but not something they needed in light of what was going on,” Mrs. Hippler said.

She said locals who were in the Dallas area or had connections immediately volunteered to help the team, and when they arrived at the Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, they were greeted warmly.

“Every team came and checked on them and said, ‘if you need anything…’” she said. “They have been very gracious and helpful. I think that made our kids feel a lot better that they weren’t in it alone.”

The race begins on Tuesday, but each team’s car has to pass seven tests before it is deemed safe enough to participate in the race.

The team passed three tests on Sunday, and Mrs. Hippler said the team is expecting to pass four more on today.

If they qualify, the team will pull into Los Angeles on Aug. 30, and the winner of the race will be determined by the number of miles clocked by the odometer.