University of Kentucky Solar Car Team

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UK Solar Car Team
Kentuck Solar Car team logo
BaseUniversity of Kentucky
Current seriesASC/FSGP

The University of Kentucky Solar Car Team is an independent, student-led project that operates as part of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. The team's primary goal is to compete in the American Solar Challenge (held every two years) and the Formula Sun Grand Prix (held every year) over the summer, but they also perform outreach events in which they display and discuss their car with nonmembers.


The team's mission is to design, build, and race solar-powered cars while developing team members through practical experience with much-needed hands-on experience outside their demanding course load, all while contributing to STEM outreach in the Bluegrass region. Over the past 20 years, there have been 6 solar cars built, each following naming convention of Gato del Sol followed by a Roman Numeral. Gato del Sol VI is the current solar car in use, first formed in 2017.


Membership is open to all University of Kentucky students (Undergraduate and Graduate), professors, and members of the community.


The Solar Car Team strives to:

  • Continuously improve the safety, reliability, efficiency, and practicality of its vehicle.
  • Develop the skills of teamwork, innovation, resourcefulness, communication, and leadership in its team members.
  • Spread alternative energy awareness throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

2nd place trophy awarded to UKSC at FSGP 2009


In 2008, the Solar Car Team completed its first North American Solar Challenge, finishing 11th of 15 teams in the 2400 mile race from Plano, TX, USA to Calgary, AB, Canada. In 2009, the team placed 2nd (out of 11 teams) in the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Texas Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX. In 2010, the team placed 9th in the American Solar Challenge, from Broken Arrow, OK to Naperville, IL. The team celebrated their 20th year anniversary in 2019.


The team began in 1999 with the creation of their first car originally named Firefly. Years later, the team was given a huge sponsorship from Stone Farm who owned the 1982 Kentucky Derby Winner, Gato del Sol. In honor of the farm's significant support the team renamed the car to Gato del Sol I. The name seemed fitting for the team since Gato del Sol literally translate to "Cat of the sun", which matched well with the school's mascot of a Wildcat.[1] The team tries to build a new car every three to four years with the intent to improve each new model as well as complying with rules and regulations set by the ASC/FSGP officials.


FSGP lap times are recorded in the format mm:ss.s, while ASC stage times are recorded as hh:mm:ss.

Name Years Active Number Image Wheels Cells Races and Results
Firefly/Gato del Sol I 1999-2003 4 4 BP Solar Cells
  • ASC 2003: Passed Scrutineering, DNQ for race. Sportsmanship Award for loaning motor to CalSol's Solar Bear
  • FSGP 2004: Placed 2nd in Stock Class
Gato del Sol II 2003-2007 4 3 480 Sunpower A-300 cells
  • NASC 2005: Passed Scrutineering, DNQ for race.
  • No races held in 2006 or 2007
Gato del Sol III 2007-2010 4 (2007-2009)

3 (2009-2010)

3 480 Sunpower A-300 cells (1200W Peak)
  • NASC 2008: Passed Scrutineering (6th), Qualified for race (5th), Finished race (11th). Total time: 100:33:24
  • FSGP 2009: Passed Scrutineering (4th), Placed 2nd out of 9.
    • Laps Completed: 393
    • Fastest Lap: 02:33
Gato del Sol IV 2010-2014 3 3 2000 Emcore Advanced Triple-Junction Gallium Arsenide cells
  • FSGP 2010: Passed Scrutineering, Placed 13th out of 14.
    • Total Miles: 142.8
  • ASC 2010: Passed Scrutineering, Placed 9th out of 14.[2]
    • Stage 1 Time: 14:28:04
    • Stage 2 Time: 15:41:36
    • Stage 3 Time: 11:59:59
    • Total Time: 42:09:39
    • Earned Adversity Award[3]
  • FSGP 2011: Passed Scrutineering, Placed 5th out of 10.
    • Laps Completed: 317
  • FSGP 2012: Passed Scrutineering, Placed 14th out of 16.
    • Laps Completed: 6
  • ASC 2012: DNQ for race.
  • Did not participate in the 2013 and 2014 races.
Gato del Sol V 2014-2017 3 3 354 Sunpower C60 encapsulated by Grape Solar cells (21.5% efficiency), 66 Emcore Advanced Triple-Junction Gallium Arsenide cells
  • FSGP 2015: Passed Scrutineering, Placed 10th out of 15.
    • Laps Completed: 82
    • Fastest Lap: 04:44.735
  • FSGP 2016: Passed Scrutineering, Placed 14th out of 20.
    • Laps Completed: 40
    • Fastest Lap: 02:46
    • Obtained provisional qualification for ASC.
  • ASC 2016: Finished 12th out of 12.
    • Stage 1 Time: 36:35:18 (DNF)
  • FSGP 2017: Passed Scrutineering (5th), Placed 7th out of 18.
    • Laps Completed: 80
    • Fastest Lap: 04:34.297
  • Gato del Sol VI (2018-present) - 4 wheels, 260 SunPower E60 bin ME1 24.3% efficiency, encapsulated by SunCat Solar LLC.
    • FSGP 2018 (Debut): Did not complete Scrutineering

Gato del Sol VI 2018-present 3 4 260 SunPower E60 bin ME1 24.3% efficiency, encapsulated by SunCat Solar LLC
  • FSGP 2018 (Debut): Did not complete Scrutineering



  1. ^ "Past Cars". Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  2. ^ Summer Hall [1] "Solar Car Team places 9th in national competition" Kentucky Kernel July 14, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  3. ^ [2] American Solar Challenge 2010 media page

External links[edit]