A group of students from Bloomington High School south is in Japan this week to compete in a solar bike race. We caught up with the team last week, as they prepared for their departure.
Bo Henderson just finished up his senior year at south, and will be coming to Indiana University this fall. This summer though, he will be spending some time cycling…in Japan…on a solar powered bicycle. Henderson is part of the Solar Racing Club at South, a group which builds and races both solar bikes and cars.
Henderson says they travel every two years to Japan, where solar bike races are an ever growing sport.
“In America, there is not a whole lot of interest. We win nationals every year…easily so I’m interested to see what the competition is.”
Recent south graduate Luis Garza is the chief driver and engineer for the solar car, and plans to continue his engineering passion at Purdue University this fall. The solar car has won 4 of its last 5 races.
“Its top speed is around 55 MPH,” he said, “it runs on a 36 volt battery, which runs off the solar panels.”
According to the group’s mentor Dan Leathers, the Solar Racing Club gives students an opportunity to compete on a global level.
“We’ve actually has both of the girls and boys team,” he said, “both genders, who attend the race, win not only their class, but overall, the fastest overall in the entire world.”
The bicycle race will take place August 6th, with the students spending the next two weeks touring Japan. Both vehicles have local and national sponsors, as the cost of maintaining a competitive solar racing team is high.