The 1996 World Solar Challenge
On 27 October 1996, almost 50 teams from around the world set out from Darwin in a bid to cross the
Australian continent powered only by sunshine. Backyard hobbyists, high schools, universities and
automotive giants were all competing for the ultimate prize in solar car racing: first place in the World
The 3010 km course of the WSC runs from Darwin to Adelaide along the Stuart Highway, through the
dry centre of the Australian continent. Held every three years since 1987, this unique and colourful
contest draws extensive media interest through what race organisers refer to as 'brain sport'. More than
a sporting event, the fierce competition of the WSC has brought about major advances and innovations in
The 1996 WSC was won by Honda's Dream with a new average speed record of 90 km/h. This
extraordinary achievement was made possible by combining the most advanced technologies available in
batteries, electric motors, solar cells, tyres and electronics, and packaging them into an aerodynamically
efficient vehicle design. Such technical excellence is quickly lending itself to the development of electric
vehicles and other novel transport technologies.
Speed of Light is a comprehensive account of the world's premier solar vehicle event.the 1996 World Solar
Challenge. It covers the colour and drama of the race itself, and provides detailed analysis and documentation
of all technical aspects of this fascinating form of motor racing. Areas discussed in detail include:
Written by professionals closely associated with solar car racing, Speed of Light has been praised by reviewers for its clarity and attention to technical detail. It contains well over 400 photographs and diagrams, including over 100 colour photos of the race itself, and covers every team from the 13 countries that were represented in the 1996 WSC. The book is the most detailed technical analysis yet published of any solar car race; making it both a fascinating account of this major event and an essential reference work for anyone interested in solar or electric vehicles. The Photovoltaics Special Research Centre at the University of New South Wales is pleased to announce the publication of Speed of Light: The 1996 World Solar Challenge. Under the directorship of Professor Martin Green, the Centre is a world leading research group in the area of solar cell technology. D. M. Roche, A. E. T. Schinckel, J. W. V. Storey, C. P. Humphris & M. R. Guelden, Speed of Light:
The 1996 World Solar Challenge, Photovoltaics Special Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney, 1997, 378 pp. (346 pp. B&W, 32 pp. colour), soft cover.
This is what the experts had to say about Speed of Light:
"... excellent in every way. It represents a perfect example of presenting technical information in a clear
manner that, while exploring the wide variety of approaches by previous designers, helps the reader
comprehend the underlying physical principles--and does all this over the many disciplines involved in
solar cars. Its mixture of text, pictures, and diagrams makes it accessible. It will help advance both
education and technology ... I hope is a wild best seller, because its value is far beyond
just solar car races."
Paul B. MacCready, Chairman of the Board, AeroVironment Inc, and the American Academy of
Achievement's Engineer of the Century.
"Speed of Light, the technical report of the 1996 World Solar Challenge, is the best WSC report to date.
It contains extensive details of all of the major elements in a solar car including solar cells, batteries,
motors, electronics, aerodynamic design, tyres, suspensions and structural design, as well as a lively
description of the race itself and a technical analysis explaining why the competitors finished as they did.
The book covers the most advanced electric vehicle technology applied to date and is a must for anyone
interested in designing and building a solar or electric car. Enthusiasts will find it both useful and
informative, while being interesting and easy to read."
Chester R. Kyle, consultant, engineer for Sunraycer and author of several publications on solar car
"[Provides] a broad background of engineering and scientific information directly applicable to solar car
design, construction and racing". Howard G. Wilson, former vice-President of Hughes Aircraft, and
Director of General Motors' Sunraycer and EV1 projects.
"The World Solar Challenge is probably the last virtually no-holds-barred automobile race in the world.
It promotes the latest, most exotic technologies in electric motors, solar arrays, and composite materials
fabrication. Speed of Light gives deep insight into the technical innovations and achievements of these
world-class racing machines. The chapters are presented in an easy-to-follow format for the novice,
while including enough engineering detail to satisfy the solar car veteran. SOL also chronicles the
day-by-day events of the 1996 WSC, recapping the triumphs and tribulations of the 46 teams that started
the 3010 km journey. As evidenced by the recent release of the General Motors EV1 electric car, the
World Solar Challenge can and will change the future of transportation technology."
Goro Tamai, Captain of Manta MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team, winner of Sunrayce 95.