Anyone who remembers watching motorcycle racing in the 1970′s would remember the cringe worthy fear of watching men of steel race un-ruly machines.
The 1970′s were a time of immense power gains; 750cc two strokes delivering explosive power on tyres prone to falling to bits with chassis built for half the power that twisted like pretzels under the immense strain. Brakes and wheels failed at these new speeds, suspension overheated and things often went wrong in the early days while people experimented with brand new technology.
This was truly death defying and cutting edge stuff and gripped the world; these men were staggeringly brave and smelt like Brut33 to prove it.
Electric motor sport really matters to everyone in the world of solar for one simple reason; these adventurous people are willing to push the boundaries, using their own money and that develops the technology, just like motorcycle racers did in the seventies.
Electric race car history
Fast forward to last Sunday the 18th May 2014. I was suddenly transported back in time to the 1970′s as I watched the very first official CAM’s sanctioned race of an electric car at Sydney Motorsport Park.
We were lucky enough to see a fantastic qualifying session where the car just whooshed past in an immensely satisfying vacuum of speed with no engine noise and posted good results. I could learn to really like that. For energy geeks, this is where the fun really began because we got to watch the real magic happen.
With around 2 hours between sessions, the ELMOFO team engaged their secret weapon; an astounding 100kW oil cooled DC fast charger. This amazing piece of kit was built by the team and sucks energy out of a van mounted battery and belts it into the car mounted Kokam cells at an incredible 100kW rate, recharging the entire storage system in under an hour. With so much energy being dealt with, the engine and brakes are cooled by an array of high power fans and the battery bank has a quick coupling oil cooling system that runs through a freezer, packed with ice, to keep temperatures under control. Of course, a vast array of computers and monitoring systems manages the whole process with a suitable amount of techy brow furrowing to match.
I’ve talked about the development of the ELMOFO team car before but seeing the team in their frantic glory prepping for the first official race season was a treat beyond belief. Not because I was surrounded by drooling EV enthusiasts (although that was cool in a weird way). Not because we watched history being made as ELMOFO, driven by Grant Walden qualified 5th out of 12 internal combustion engined cars. Nope, the real treat was re-living the ’70′s through the Youtube video.
The fantastic in-car video is very revealing, because it highlights the same issues racers faced all those years ago. Walden had astounding speed off the start line but you can see that he is wrestling ELMOFO as at struggles for traction with 600NM of torque trying to shed the tires to pieces. He jumped immediately to third place behind two very fast conventional cars and you can clearly see that his speed is very closely matched to his competitors sporting very highly tuned and expensive race engines.
The more I watched the video and the more laps passed however, the more I reckon you can see the seventies emerging. Walden looks like he is struggling with weight; overcooking it into corners and running wide on several occasions. Then as he exits corners, the brute of a car can be seen squirming and shimmying as it undoubtedly claws for traction with its prodigious and brutal torque. It was like watching Barry Sheene on an early prototype all over again.
We watched this unfolding live thinking he was simply not keeping up on outright speed or power but clearly, he was battling to maintain control of the car; in fairness to his incredible skill, it was his first race in anger and he performed admirably. The laps passed and he seemed to get a rhythm going and ran his own race. Sadly, despite a huge effort, the punishment of lots of pre-race testing resulted in a battery cell problem which robbed Walden of power and he was pipped for 5th place on the line.
With the next race in mind, the team played with things for a while and then pulled the pin to save the car for the next race coming up in the near future. This is racing; as the saying goes “race it, break it, fix it, race it” and they are at the absolute cutting edge of the technology with a car put together by a bloke from Newcastle and his friends. It’s about time, money and persistence now.
This day was a massive success, because it demonstrated the car has immense untapped capability, and they’ll get it right. The proof of the pudding was the competing drivers who swarmed in and simply stood, jaws agape, staring in wonder and what they had just been beaten by.
They had just witnessed their future and FormulaE doesn’t even start till September.
Electric Bike history
Not a day goes by when I don’t talk to some one about the astounding new Zero SR. Gizmag have released a very revealing and entertaining new Youtube clip to accompany their recent test ride. They described in wonderful “Dad language”, what a revolution this bike is and most importantly some great one liners that sum up how much this bike represents.
“Being electric, bike developers have no-one looking over their shoulder and they can put the power wherever you want and tune it effortlessly”
“This is a f$%$%$%$g hoot; you could have some fun on this”
“This bike makes made me re-think exactly what it is I love about motorcycles because it strips so many things away that I thought were absolutely integral. It’s the ride and I’m here to tell you the Zero SR has got it in spades”
Still not convinced? Well in the last week, Yamaha have announced the release of two all electric bikes which will undoutedly be well refined and marketed packages when they hit the showroom floors “soon”.
Last week also saw the news that Pikes Peak winning and Bonnyville land speed record holders Lightning Motorcycles are ready for production on their electric hyper sports bike. For those with a bigger budget wanting to race or buy a hi-end performance bike, you can place your order now.
If thats not enough I was lucky enough to meet Daniel Ripperton who has had some fantastic success in Australia on his home built electric race bike. Ripperton’s bike uses an Yamha R1 chassis with a 7kWh LiPo battery and dual water cooled motors and is capable of delivering an incredible 213kmh. Although I didn’t get to meet the Catavolt team who also hail from Newcastle, they also have an incredible hub motored biek that has been dominant in Australian racing and performed hugely in the US at Daytona.
And just today, legendary Spanish motorcycle manufacture Bultaco announced their re-birth – with a new all electric range. Founder and namesake Paco Bultó, famously said in the seventies that he “wasn’t himself a fan of the peaky two-stroke powerband” and “that the ideal scenario would be a constant torque engine with the same response as any system for a motorcycle without gear shifts… as if we had an electrical engine.”
Wise words Paco; the dream has come to life.
Source: Solar Business Services. Reproduced with permission.