Phoenix Racing revved up for first Formula Sun Grand Prix

Jul 10, 2024
Phoenix Racing Team stands with the solar race car

Florida Polytechnic University’s Phoenix Racing team shows their finished solar racecar ready for its first competition in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Formula Sun Grand Prix will pit the team’s speedy car against designs from some of the nation’s top universities.

The final finishing touches are in place and excitement is high as Florida Polytechnic University’s first solar racing team prepares to head to Bowling Green, Kentucky, this week to participate in its first ever Formula Sun Grand Prix solar car race.

Light, eye-catching, and aerodynamic, the car is ready to be loaded up and begin its nearly 800-mile trek to test its solar racing power and the team’s engineering might. The team departs on Thursday, July 11.

“This has been a little nerve wracking, but we’re at the finish line,” said Spencer Blackwell, the team’s president and a rising senior majoring in mechanical engineering. “Now that we’re here, it feels like a bit of weight has lifted off my shoulders.”

The Phoenix Racing team will compete against storied teams from universities like MIT, Berkeley, and Michigan State. Race competitors will be judged by the number of solar-powered laps they can complete over 24 hours of driving time across three days, July 16-18. Driving the team’s car will be Blackwell, Willard Scammey, and Caleb Smith.

“I'm really excited to be part of the team because we've been working on this since spring 2022,” said Madison Ricker, a rising senior majoring in mechanical engineering. “I think if you ask anyone on this team, they'll say it feels really good to be here.”

The team formed in 2022, building a prototype car during its first year. Its current competition car was built during the most recent academic year.

Dr. Matt Bohm, professor of mechanical engineering and Florida Poly’s director of industry engagement and capstone projects, is one of the team’s advisors. He helped launch the group and competed in similar solar engineering competitions during his high school and college years.

“This car, and competing with this car, sets the stage for Florida Poly to continue to be active in engineering design team competitions,” he said. “Phoenix Racing will go on. The students are already saying, ‘Well, if we had changed this in the design then we could have done X, Y, and Z.’”

That mindset is part of what sets Florida Poly students apart, Bohm added.

“There will certainly be more iterations,” he said. “It’s something about engineering in that you want to get it right or optimize the system, much like the kid playing Legos and always tearing whatever down to build the next version even better.”

Once the students return from competition, they’ll begin examining the specs for the next race’s cars and coming up with ways to change the 2024 car ideas and processes to outperform themselves next time.

“The University has been so supportive,” Blackwell said. “They’re letting us do something for the first time and letting us do what we need to so we can learn.”

To support or sponsor Phoenix Racing, click here.


Lydia Guzman
Director of Communications