Illinois State University’s Solar Car “Raycing” Team is heading for another cross-country adventure of ingenuity and sustainability. Known as Team Mercury, the all-volunteer, student-led team will tackle the American Solar Challenge (ASC) from August 3-7.

“We’re incredibly excited to be able to compete after missing the 2020 season due to COVID,” said Team President Alex Plumadore, who graduated in May with a double major in physics and computational physics, and also has an internship with NASA this summer.

Stretching more than 1,000 miles through four states, the 2021 American Solar Car Challenge will follow the Santa Fe Trail to commemorate the bicentennial of the route. The race begins in Independence, Missouri, then winds toward Santa Fe, New Mexico, and ends in Las Vegas, New Mexico, on August 7.  

Team Mercury fans can follow the progress of the team through the ASC website and through the team’s Facebook page, or on Instagram @ISU_SolarCarTeam. 

“I cannot contain my excitement about driving in the race,” said team member Jessica Lamberty, a May graduate with a major in international business. She originally joined the team to assist with finances and community outreach, but is now one of the drivers set to take on the ASC. “It’s my first time racing in the solar car,” she said. Lamberty joins three other drivers of the nine participating team members for Illinois State in the ASC, including Myles Birkhead, Callahan McGinty, and Keegan Baisa.

Team Mercury has been building and racing solar-powered vehicles since 2005. They have been recognized for their success in both the American Solar Challenge and the qualifying Formula Sun Grand Prix. The team competed internationally in 2015 when they were invited to the international Abu Dhabi Solar Car Challenge in Dubai.  

Among other sponsors, on-campus support for the ISU Solar Car Team comes from the University’s the Office of Finance and Planning, Office of Sustainability, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Physics, the Office of the President, the College of Applied Science and Technology, and the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Technology. 

All nineteen team members helped to prep the car over the past two years. Nine are attending the race this week. The 2021 racing team includes: Alex Plumadore, Jessica Lamberty, Myles Birkhead, Keegan Baisa, Yunpeng Li, Andrew Missel, Gabriel St. Angel, Callahan McGinty, and Bailey McNulty, with advisors Jim Dunham and Dean Plumadore.  

The team is open to all majors. Those interested in joining the team can contact  

Watch a video of the team from 2014: