By Lisa Voyles
HOUSTON – “It’s not our car, it’s our kids,” has been Keith Reese’s refrain since the inception of the Houston Solar Race program at the Houston School of Science and Technology.
Reese teaches electricity at the school and created the solar racing program in 1994. The team entered its first Solar Challenge competition in 2000, placing sixth in the division, but has racked up 12 consecutive first-place titles since.
And going into Tuesday’s final racing session of the 2013 event, they had a lock on win No. 13.
The Sundancer solar car began its journey July 23, leaving Fort Worth, Texas, en route to Los Angeles, Calif. By the end of Monday’s racing session, the team’s lead in miles traveled could not be matched, not by their competitor in the Open Division or by any other car in the Classic or Advanced divisions.
Reese openly acknowledges that the Houston car is not the most expensive nor the most techologically advanced, but he doesn’t feel the car itself is the reason for the winning tradition.
The team builds the car and makes all preparations for the race, including repairs on the road.
“We try to win this race here in Houston before we ever leave town,” Reese said.
2013 team captain, Trey Franklin, said the preparation paid off in the grueling road race through the mountains and desert.
“The way Houston is always so successful is because we plan and prepare for everything to be as successful as possible,” Franklin said.
Franklin said the route has been physically challenging for the team and the car, but mechanical issues have not been a problem.
“We haven’t had any problems, not even a flat tire yet, and I can’t imagine how,” Franklin said.
The Solar Challenge concluded Tuesday afternoon at Exposition Park in Los Angeles with the awards banquet following. Official results of miles traveled by each car were not available at press time.
Team members are flying home later this week while sponsors and advisers will drive back trailering the Sundancer car, which earned a 13th national title and a well-deserved rest.