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CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) – Driving a sleek, million-dollar car, a University of Michigan team completed a 2,247-mile sprint down America’s Main Street on Wednesday to win what was billed as the world’s most arduous solar car race.

The student-built M-Pulse took first place in the American Solar Challenge, traveling Route 66 from Chicago to this college town in 56 hours, 10 minutes and 46 seconds.

The University of Missouri-Rolla team finished second, with a cumulative time 80 minutes slower. It had led the race, but fell behind in New Mexico.

“We got caught in the clouds,” said Eric Pieper, 19, one of the team’s four drivers.

The cars raced from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, starting July 15. The cars were powered solely by the sun’s rays, which beat down on photovoltaic cells that covered the surfaces of the wing-shaped, single-passenger machines.

The cost of the cars ranged from $30,000 to more than $1 million.

The race course followed what remains of Route 66 through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. On flat stretches, the cars hit 70 mph.

“They’re electric race cars,” said Richard King of the Department of Energy, which was the race’s primary sponsor.

Canada’s University of Waterloo took third place. Twenty-eight of the 30 entries finished the race; the last-place car, entered by the University of Alberta in Canada, was 83 hours behind the winner.

The racers were all from universities in the United States, Canada and England, save two entries: one from Hacienda Heights, Calif., high school and a racing club from Italy.


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