The Goal of the Junior Solar Sprint
Design and build a vehicle that will complete a race in the shortest possible time using the available power.Teams use a kit containing a solar panel and a motor. Using any other materials, competitors will design and build a solar powered vehicle that will race on a 20-meter racecourse. The winner of the competition will be the team whose vehicle has the fastest time.

  • Explanation: teams must use the official solar panel and the official motor. Teams are constrained by using only that one solar panel and only that one motor. All other materials used to build the vehicle are up to the team.

NOTE: All JSS cars must be built by the student with limited assistance from the coach or other adults. This is a student competition!


Note: These rules were copied/pasted from the official rules of the NREL. Click here for Host Guide Book. Please note that we are sticking with most of the original rules from the NREL. We don’t have the cars carry tennis or Ping-Pong balls as do some of the events across the country. Explanations are made below some of the rules to further explain constraints. If you have any questions, feel free to email Kurt Thonnings at


  • The motor and solar panel must be used without any modification.
  • The remainder of the vehicle must be your own design and can be made from any other material.

Vehicle Specifications:
General Rules

  • The vehicle must be safe to contestants and spectators, e.g., no sharp edges, projectiles, etc.
  • The vehicle must fit the following dimensions: 30 cm. By 60 cm. By 30 cm.
  • Explanation: The vehicle can be any size below these dimensions
  • Decals of the sponsor organizations (provided by your school) must be visible from the side on the body of the car.
  • A 3 cm. by 3-cm. Space must be left for the assigned car number.
Pertaining to the solar panel
  • The sun’s light is the only energy source that may be used to power the vehicle. No other batteries or energy storage devices are permitted.
  • Any energy-enhancing devices, like mirrors, must be attached to the vehicle (chassis or body system)
  • The solar panel must be able to be removed from the vehicle, and easily disconnected from the motor.)
  • The body of the car must be three-dimensional, meaning that the solar vehicle must be structurally sound without the solar panel.
  • Teams will NOT be allowed to bolt the axles and wheels to the solar cell.
  • The solar cell cannot be used as the body of the car.

Guidance system

  • The vehicle must be steered via a guide wire that runs the length of the track- 20 meters (typically fishing line). The vehicle must be attached to the guide wire by a minimum of 1 attachment point.
  • The vehicle must be easily attached (and removed) from the wire without disconnecting the guide wire

Extra Rules for LBMS students

  • The vehicle must be designed so that most or all materials used in constructing the vehicle are recyclable or reusable.
  • One item/material used in construction of the final vehicle must have been brought from home by the students in the team. Higher points will be given to materials that are being repurposed.

Track Specifications:

1. The length of the race course is 20 meters over flat terrain.
2. Race lanes are at approximately 60 cm. wide.
3. The guide wire will be located in the center of the track and will not be more than 1.5 cm. above the track surface.
4. The track is a hard, flat smooth surface such as a tennis court or running track. A large sheet of rolled material, i.e., plastic, heavy paper, or roll roofing (half-lap), or hardwood taped or bolted together may be used to cover an unsuitable surface.

The Race

Conduct of the Race:
  1. At race time, the vehicle will be placed behind the starting line with all its wheels in contact with the ground and an opaque sheet covering, but not touching the solar panel. On the count of “3, 2, 1…and remove the opaque sheet covering on the word “Go.”
  2. The timer will be started on the word, “Go”, whether or not the car actually ‘start’ rolling. Early moving of the cardboard before the word “Go” may result in disqualification from that heat. The determination will be left to the race judges.
  3. You may not touch your vehicle any time after the start of the race. A push start may result in disqualification. The determination will be left to the race judges.
  4. One team member must be at the finish line to retrieve the vehicle. Do not take your vehicle off the track until directed to do so by the timers.
  5. Team members may not accompany or touch the vehicle on the track at any time. Vehicles stalled on the track may be retrieved after the end of the race has been declared. The end of the race will be declared after the last car crosses the finish line and any remaining cars on a lane have been stalled for no more than and additional 15 seconds.
  6. The vehicle and team member must remain at the finish line until the race times of all vehicles in that heat have been confirmed.
  7. Lane changing or crossing will result in disqualification. (At the discretion of the judges).
  8. Challenges must be made before the race judges begin the next heat. All challenges must come from the team members who are actively competing. The decisions of the race judges are final.
  9. Judges have the option to inspect cars prior to the final heat or at anytime during/after heats.


  • Each team will have one opportunity to run their car.
  • The car with the fastest time in their heat will advance to a finals round
  • If there should be a tie, the two cars will race against each other, the winner advancing to the finals round