On July 13, 2003, 20 teams of college students began racing their solar-powered cars across 2,300 miles of historic Route 66, from Chicago, Illinois, to Claremont, California. With students behind the wheels, the high-tech and high-efficiency solar cars crossed the Great Plains, climbed the Rocky Mountains, darted over the great American desert, and dashed across the finish line in Southern California. After months of designing and building these cars, the students were ready for the racing challenge. All of this was part of the American Solar Challenge. Why is the race important? First, it inspires young people to pursue careers in science and engineering, and we will need many more scientists and engineers if this country is to remain competitive. Second, with each race, we make improvements in the cars, and some of those improvements make their way into solar and electric motors and cars as these young engineers go on to jobs. Finally, solar car racing helps demonstrate to the public that solar power is a viable option today to produce clean energy that can help reduce our use of energy derived from fossil fuels, an important step in enhancing our national security and protecting our environment. Teams are now preparing for the 2005 American Solar Challenge.
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