App State Solar Car Team Takes 2nd @ International “Formula Sun Grand Prix” Competition in Texas

App State Solar Car Team Takes 2nd @ International “Formula Sun Grand Prix” Competition in Texas
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Photo by Marie Freeman, Appalachian State University

By David Rogers. July 10, 2017. AUSTIN, TX — Now if only the App State football team can beat Michigan State, Florida, Kentucky, Northwestern, Georgia Tech and Texas.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in this report was taken from a press release written by Appalachian State University’s Megan Hayes, as well as information taken from the event website,

After winning the coveted “pole position” to begin the weekend, Appalachian State University’s Team Sunergy demonstrated resilience and preparedness in coming back from not just one, but two mid-race setbacks to record a second place finish among the 18 solar-powered cars entered in the 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix over three days of competition at the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, TX.

In the competition presented by the Innovators Educational Foundation, the teams raced their solar-powered vehicles for eight hours each day of the three-day event.

Of the 18, only 17 passed pre-race inspection, a “scrutineering” process that included driver registration and ballast weight measurement, driver egress training, and examination of each vehicle’s lights and vision, body and sizing, electrical systems, battery protection system, structural and mechanical vehicle components, a series of driving tests to verify stability and braking, solar array testing to verify power output, and overall safety evaluation.

The starting grid for the race included:

  1. Appalachian State University
  2. Poly Montreal
  3. ETS Quebec
  4. University of California, Berkeley
  5. University of Kentucky
  6. Illinois State University
  7. Northwestern University
  8. Missouri University of Science & Technology
  9. Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
  10. Georgia Tech University
  11. Puerto Rico
  12. University of Texas-Austin

Schools listed as “late” to qualify included University of Florida, Michigan State, Principia, Western Ontario and Western Michigan. British Columbia did not pass scrutineering and was not allowed to proceed to the track.

Photo by Marie Freeman, Appalachian State University

Dubbed “Apperion,” the App State vehicle may have started from the top qualifying spot, but gave it up on Lap 17 with what was described as a “tension cable failure,” forcing a tow back to the team’s pit, a 45 minute repair, and a drop to 4th place. Team Sunergy ended the first day of track racing in third place after only one additional pit stop and solid driver contributions from Sam Biagioli and Duvey Rudow.  They were only three laps behind Cal-Berkeley and École de Technologie Supérieure (Quebec), who shared the Day 1 lead.

On Day 2, the Apperion’s mechanical issues persisted, but required only about 20 minutes of repair time and the Team Sunergy got back on the track in 5th place (obviously, other teams were having problems of their own in staying on track).  Apperion driver Lindsay Rudisill was able to bring the App State car back into second before the afternoon driver change, giving way to Cristian Gulisano to finish the day solidly in second.

Photo by Marie Freeman, Appalachian State University

An evening storm prevented the team from fully-charging Apperion’s solar array panels during the scheduled evening charging time, but the third day of racing arrived hot and sunny and the team was able to take full advantage of the morning array-charging time.  With only 20 minutes to go in the race under 100-degree (Fahrenheit) conditions, Apperion blew a tire and the team was forced to execute a tire change at the furthest point away from the finish on the 3.4 mile track.  Biagioli was able to pilot Apperion to a second place finish, however, only 10 laps behind the winner, Cal-Berkeley, and 20 laps in front of third place Poly Montreal.

Although Appalachian State’s entry finished as the runner-up, Team Sunergy picked up other top-ranked recognition in capturing the Safety Award, Fastest Egress Award, Array Award, and the ISF Achievement Award, which ISF describes as being presented to the team “…that best exemplifies the mission of ISF by raising awareness of the imperatives of sustainable transport through innovation, and promoting the concept of ‘Brain Sport’.”

“I am so proud of Team Sunergy and their vehicle, Apperion,” said Appalachian Chancellor Sheri N. Everts. “They have earned an international reputation for their solid work ethic and problem-solving skills in this grueling applied- design competition. But beyond that, they are developing sustainable transportation solutions we will see on the road in the near future.”


  1. University of California, Berkeley
  2. Appalachian State
  3. Poly Montreal
  4. ETS Quebec
  5. Illinois State
  6. Georgia Tech
  7. Kentucky
  8. Missouri A&T
  9. Texas
  10. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
  11. Puerto Rico
  12. Northwestern

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