IndyCar Driver Stays on Track to Bring Solar to the 500

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Wilson wants to introduce a solar-powered pit stand to the Indianapolis 500. Wilson wants to introduce a solar-powered pit stand to the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson says he’s still in talks with teams to put in an appearance at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month, and remains hopeful his campaign for a solar-powered timing stand will pull through as well.

“Right now it’s looking like 50/50,” the British-born Indianapolis resident reports.

Wilson has been intrigued with the idea of adding solar capacity to race venues for about five years. He recently teamed up with the Colorado-based American Solar Energy Society to ramp up visibility for his #ThinkSolar initiative.

“It’s not so much that we can power the car yet,” he admits, “but looking around Pit Lane, the garage area and around the Paddock, there’s a lot of energy being used there, and so could solar be used there?”

Wilson has observed an upswing in solar energy use on the racing circuit and around the country. He points to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s massive solar array as an example. The nine-megawatt farm directly east of Turn 3 is the largest of its kind at a sports facility.

“Actually on Pit Lane, we’re designing, right now, a pit stand that is completely powered off solar energy, and the energy storage that goes along with it. And if we do that, that would really demonstrate solar’s capabilities, and that’s where all the engineers on the team work throughout the race, so about six hours of usage there, estimated about 1800 watts capacity that we’ve got to supply energy for.”

Wilson sees the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 as a premium opportunity to show off a practical display of solar usage, with an estimated 30 billion media impressions worldwide and nearly nine million total live viewers alone. He’s looking for like-minded investors to help him reach his goal for the pit stand.

But the 26-year-old understands the nature of making the famous field of 33, especially in this landmark year.

“If it doesn’t all come together for this year’s 500, we’ll work to take #ThinkSolar on into the IndyCar series and focus on an event later this year or the Indianapolis 500 in 2017.”

Driver Stefan Wilson says he's looking for supporters who'd like the type of exposure only the Indy 500 can offer.
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