The seed for Bullard competing in the race was planted at a camp last summer at the University of Texas-Dallas. The Bullard team pulled into the school parking lot second overall, but first in their division with captain Austin Gwartney at the controls.
Gwartney said the 28-mile journey went well but admitted the course was a little more hilly than the team was expecting, which can drain the battery. As a precaution to save the main battery, an auxiliary battery was quickly installed before the teams hit the road again.
A team from Houston, Miss., a town of about 4,000 45 miles south of Tupelo, was the first team to arrive via trailer just after 9 a.m. Tuesday. High school physics teacher Anita Ellison said all the Houston team members were members of the electricity class at the 500-student school. The team has taken part in many Solar Car Challenge races.
Teams compete in different divisions, based on experience, according to a press release. Newer teams take part in the Classic division, which requires participants to use less expensive conventional motors, lead batteries and less efficient solar cells. Older teams enter the Open division and can use more expensive technology.
Each car must have a roll cage similar to NASCAR rides, a safety harness, turn signals and a fire extinguisher. Vehicles and trailers are available in case of a breakdown, one which happened on the way to Springtown, with all race aspects being closely monitored.