Pride of Maryland Solar Car Returns to Roots at Maryland
On January 20, 2020, a team of alumni and Department of Mechanical Engineering staff hoisted the 20-foot long car to its new home on permanent display in the Clark School’s Engineering Lab building.
The installation is the culmination of unflagging efforts by a handful of former alumni and team members, including Steve Brady (aerospace engineering, ’89), Bernie LaFrance (civilian Navy master machinist), Bill Raynor (mechanical engineering, ’91), Scott Schmidt (mechanical engineering, ’87), and Maureen Williams (mechanical engineering, ’91, M.S., materials science, ’99), whose passion for the car and its legacy has long outlasted the team’s days racing in the sun.
Along with Mechanical Engineering staff member Majid Aroom and his son Kevin, the group coordinated the installation, fabricated custom support brackets, and used a crane to raise it into position.
The Pride of Maryland was a solar-powered vehicle designed and built by some 60 plus University of Maryland (UMD) engineering students to compete in the 1990 GM Sunrayce USA, a 1,644-mile race from Florida to Michigan. The team placed third in Sunrayce, securing them a spot to go on to international competition in Australia, where the team placed seventh overall against 36 other teams. From there, the team competed in Japan in 1992 before the car was retired from racing. However, it made a brief return in 1993 as a participant in President Bill Clinton’s inaugural parade.
Over the years, the Pride of Maryland spent time at an automotive museum in Tennessee and the Baltimore Museum of Industry, with occasional stints in storage in between more prominent postings. Team members never failed to keep track of the car, rescuing it from time to time to refurbish it and find it another home.
The Pride of Maryland—a car built by a group of students, assisted by a handful of professionals, and led by dedicated Professor and Terps Racing faculty advisor David C. Holloway, “Doc”—has finally returned home to Maryland to be on permanent display.
“Doc guided us through this project as we faced the real-world of setbacks, deadlines, teamwork challenges, and limited funding,” explained Williams when asked about the legacy of the Pride of Maryland team. “We succeeded because of his confidence in us as innovators, problem solvers, and hard workers. This engineering project taught us how to succeed. We bonded as a team to accomplish our main goal—to make the University of Maryland solar car a winner—but it continues to touch our lives thirty years later as our team has become lifelong friends.”
It has been a long road, but the solar car has finally come home to inspire other students at UMD.
Williams hopes the car will encourage students to “push their limits, because it can change your life, and you’ll never regret it!"
March 12, 2020