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NREL Model Car Competitions

Photo of a small, outdoor model car racetrack. People are kneeling around the track as they watch a race that is in progress.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) hosts car competitions that race solar- and battery-powered model vehicles. Middle School teams from all around Colorado participate in this fun, educational, and exciting event every May. Teams work together building cars with guidance from a parent, teacher, or coach to compete in race and design categories. A "Spirit Award" is also presented to one team recognizing good sportsmanship.

Building solar- and battery-powered cars requires skills in both math and science. The primary goal of the competitions is to generate enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills at a crucial stage in the development of young people. The competitions also help improve students' understanding of scientific concepts and renewable energy technologies, and encourages young people to consider technical careers at an early age.

2016 Model Car Competitions

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 model car competitions! Check back early next year for information about the 2017 competitions.

Photo of middle school students racing solar-powered cars on an outdoor racetrack. People are kneeling around the track as they watch a race that is in progress.

Sources for Model Car Kits and Accessories

From the suppliers listed here, you can order kits containing solar cells modules and electric motors, surplus motors, and gears.


Photo of a group of female students wearing hot-pink t-shirts, smiling.

Hosting a Model Car Event

Solar- and battery-powered car competitions can be hosted by individuals, organizations, or schools. Hosts coordinate regional competitions by contacting middle/junior high schools; assigning technical mentors to the students and teachers; and planning, organizing, and conducting races.


For more information about NREL's model car competitions, contact Marcus Giron, 303-275-3047.