EVENT: Top high school and college teams from across California and the U.S. compete on the track to see whose “alternative fuel” car can go the farthest in one hour on one dollar’s worth of any energy source.

WHEN: Noon-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4: practice laps and media availability 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5: time trials 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6: final heats, with winners announced about 2 p.m.

WHERE: Orange County Great Park, Irvine, Calif. (http://www.the-xpo.org/media/media-parking/), XPO Transportation Zone, California Challenge course 1

INFORMATION: Media planning to attend should contact Janet Wilson at 949-824-3969 or janethw@uci.edu. On the day of the event, call 213-880-8948. Parking is complimentary for media who register in advance. A B-roll video package and high-resolution photos of the event and winners will be available Sunday afternoon.

BACKGROUND:  UC Irvine will host the California Challenge, a national “green” student car race, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO. High school and college teams will race alternative vehicles they’ve designed and built from scratch in energy-efficiency time trials. The course includes a high-speed section, an autocross section and a staged idle section. The car that travels the longest distance in one hour using $1 of any combination of energy sources wins.

The competition is part of a global trend: Student electrathons, the Formula Sun Grand Prix, the UCI Energy Invitational and similar races are being held in Australia, England and Southern California. Whether fueled by natural gas, solar power or electricity, the vehicles involved could end up providing breakthrough technology for cars of the future. In addition, advanced engineering students are getting nuts-and-bolts experience that helps them land jobs upon graduation.

Local teams from high schools in Tustin, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove, as well as UC Irvine; California State University, Los Angeles; and California State University, Fullerton will be among those at the starting line. The track has been built on the former runways of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, now the Orange County Great Park.