Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Electric Vehicle Racing at Laguna Seca

For three years now Speed Ventures has held an electric track day (race) event at the Laguna Seca raceway.  Below is a video shot at the 2011 event.

I've attended the event twice and written these race reports:

NEDRA: Drag Racing World Recognizes the Electric Vehicle

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Dec 19, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The world of electric drag racing just got a whole lot more exciting with the announcement from the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) with the incorporation of electric vehicles into their rule book. For your average drag race fan, this change opens a new and exciting chapter on the drag race scene, not seen since the likes of the inception of the electric vehicle itself. Creating this change paves the way for emerging technologies to compete alongside their combustion engine counter parts at race tracks across Canada and throughout North America. 

Akin to their top alcohol vehicles and motorcycles, the time for electrics has come. With the rapid development in battery technology, electric drag racers are getting faster with each passing month. The race track also provides a platform for battery research and development which helps pave the way for the further evolution of the electric vehicle movement. 

The National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) and the IHRA have formally recognized electric cars and motorcycles, including electric junior dragsters are now in their 2012 rule book. The IHRA, formed in 1970, is the largest drag racing sanctioning body in Canada and the second largest in the US. 

It has been a landmark year for NEDRA in Canada with the creation of Canada's only electric drag racing chapter and the appointment of Casey Mynott as NEDRA's Canadian West Coast regional director. 2011 will also be marked as historic for Canadian drag racing with the debut of Canada's first electric drag racing vehicle, including a record setting run with the Delta Secondary School Drag Racing team, lead by Mynott. "We are extremely excited by this move from NEDRA and the IHRA," states Casey Mynott, Delta Secondary Automotive Instructor and NEDRA regional director. "This development continues to push the envelope for electric drag racing and provides a great platform for further expansion of our high school electric drag racing program." 

Mynott and his students from Delta Secondary School spent two years converting a 1989 Toyota pickup truck to Canada's first electric drag racing truck earlier this year, setting Canada's first and fastest electric drag racing record. 2012 will provide new opportunity for Mynott and his students with the addition of a junior dragster to their racing program. 

The National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) and the IHRA have implemented this historical change which will smooth the way for new, exciting and safe electric vehicle (EV) drag racing events. 

NEDRA is a specialized chapter of the Electric Auto Association, created to increase public awareness of electric vehicle (EV) performance and to encourage through competition, advances in electric vehicle technology. NEDRA achieves this by organizing and sanctioning safe, silent and exciting electric vehicle drag racing events. To learn more visit .
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SOURCE: National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA)

TTXGP returns with a multi-year deal to the 'cathedral of motorcycle racing'

For two years now the TTXGP Europe series has raced at the "Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing", namely the race track at Assen in the Netherlands. 

With an announcement yesterday, this arrangement is guaranteed for the next three years. 

This is good news that underscores long-term viability of the TTXGP series, in that they're feeling stable enough to sign a long term deal.  This calls to mind the difficulty they had during 2011 with getting their schedules lined up, and the several changes made throughout the year.

20th December 2011

GAMMA RACING DAY August 5TH. 2012, Assen - Holland will host the TTXGP in 2012. The Dutch round of TTXGP World Championship to be the World's leading eGrandprix venue. This is a World first multi-year deal for TTXGP and will see electric motorsport committed to Assen till 2014!

TTXGP are pleased to announce its first multi-year agreement with the GAMMA Racing Day, Europe’s biggest combined annual racing event at the ‘cathedral of motorsports’, the TT Circuit Assen. Riders and manufacturers from all over the world will race electrical powered racing bikes August 5th. 2012 in what will be the official and only Dutch round in the TTXGP World Championship. With an expected 50.000+ crowd the GAMMA Racing Day organization and TTXGP look set to strengthen their position as the world’s leading eGrandPrix venue.

The ‘Zero Carbon, Clean Emission Grand Prix’ chooses to race at an established racing event like the GAMMA Racing Day to bring the series and its technology forward to the attention of the masses, hoping to influence acceptance of the new technology and create future consumers. The GAMMA Racing Day is the biggest professional racing event in Holland after the annual MotoGP round. The event can be accessed free of charge with a ‘Free Ticket’ distributed by the event’s sponsors. It features races in Dutch Superbike and Supersport, the CIK-FIA European Superkart Championship, the Dutch Supercar Challenge and renowned formula racing series like the ATS Formel-3-Cup and the NEC Formula Renault 2.0 as well as exciting demonstrations.

TTXGP founder, Azhar Hussain: “The Dutch round will be an amazing experience and truly memorable one in the TTXGP Calendar. The Atmosphere at Assen is unrivaled and the GP course is thrilling for both riders and spectators.”

“We are also very pleased to have found our first long term home for TTXGP. This will see TTXGP committed for the next 3 years to partner with LDP to build a world class platform for racing and innovation not just on the track but also with the City of Assen.”

The City of Assen has been involved in the Dutch round in TTXGP The eGrandPrix right from the start in 2010. Alderman for the City of Assen Henk Matthijsse: "Assen is motorcycle city par excellence and holds a leading position in sustainability. Electric motorsport fits in well with TT-city Assen".

Bertram Buikema on behalf of GAMMA Racing Day owner LDP International b.v.: “”Win on Sunday sell on Monday” is a universal marketing motto not limited to conventional racing. To market an exciting and high performance vehicle you go racing. Manufacturers and dealers tend to eventually shift their attention in racing and marketing to machinery and technology they are most likely to sell on the streets. With the current financial stimulations from governments worldwide we expect the market for electric road vehicles to grow. One of the leading conventional manufacturers Honda’s recent RC-E prototype release confirms this development. With the TTXGP round at Europe’sbiggest combined racing event we offer a great marketing tool for any brand associated with electric mobility and its technology.”

Assen will form part of TTXGP Euro 2012. This joins with TTXGP Australia 2012 and TTXGP North America 2012, as qualifying rounds for the TTXGP World CHAMPIONSHIP Final 2012.

Leading the TTXGP field in Europe is the infamous German Münch motorcycle on which Matthias Himmelmann took the TTXGP World Championship 2010 and 2011. Second in 2011 was Team Zongshen, the official Chinese factory team racing exclusively in TTXGP; joining them were teams from India, Italy, Belgium, UK, Japan and Sweden. 2012 will be an amazing year – join us.

NASCAR Goes Green with Ethanol, rather than Electricity

Racing hasn't traditionally been terribly interested in sustainability.  After all it's rather wasteful to drive around in circles to see who can drive the fastest.  But Motorsports, as readers of this blog are aware, are looking into ways to reduce carbon footprint and in general move towards some sort of sustainability.  But each form of motorsports has been doing this differently, and it seems to this observer that existing motorsports people grew up with getting ahead by tweaking ENGINES for maximum power and efficiency, which may give them blinders against adopting non-ENGINE technology.

An example is the Ethanol embrace by both NASCAR and the IndyCar series.  Both are claiming to be going green by adopting Ethanol. 
Green Innovation initiative has many impressive aspects including landfill diversion from events, recycling tires and used motor oil, and tree planting offset programs.

NASCAR and IndyCar both have interesting "green" initiatives such as recycling tires, landfill diversion, etc, and some race tracks have gone a bit further with ideas like solar panel arrays to produce electricity and using goats to trim the grass.  The most noticeable effort with both groups is their switch to Ethanol.

There's a lot of room for questioning just how green biofuels are.  Ethanol for example has a long history in racing (e.g. alcohol fuels) so in practice it's not much of a change for racers to switch between various liquid fuels, especially to adopt a sort of alcohol fuel they've been using anyway.

Having attended an IndyCar race I know that those race cars are just as loud and smelly as when they ran on gasoline.  It's one thing for an EV fanatic like me to look down my nose at their use of biofuels, and it's yet another thing to supply them with an electric alternative that will do their race format.

The gas-car races go for 500 miles, right?  Going high speed with an electric car is quite possible, but going 500 miles would mean stopping to recharge frequently.  What would be the model to enable a 500 mile race at the speeds they run at?  Fast recharge systems (e.g. CHADEMO) take 10 or 20 minutes to do the recharge.  Battery swapping systems are possible allowing a pack to be swapped within a minute or so, and this exact thing has been done in multiple electric vehicle races.  But it would mean having a car racing organization with the vision to reshape their sport to do this.

NASCAR Goes Green

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lola-Drayson All-Electric Car to be unveiled at 2012 Low Carbon Racing Conference

The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV all-electric prototype racing car will be launched at the International Motorsport Business Week on 11 January 2012 at the MIA International Low Carbon Conference.

Drayson Racing is headed by Lord Drayson, former Minister of Science and Innovation, alongside current Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green.  While the team races with high powered gas cars, they're also working on electric race cars. 

Lord Drayson, Managing Partner at Drayson Racing Technologies and President of the Motorsport Industry Association commented: “Electric racing is really taking off with the launch of the new FIA Formula E world championship for electric racing cars planned for 2013 and we are delighted to be able to showcase at this conference the work we are doing to prepare for this exciting new championship. Electric racing is a major new business opportunity for motorsport and underlines the growing commercial potential of green racing with new drivetrains, new materials, new fuels and new aerodynamic developments that will be highlighted at the conference. It is an exciting time to be a race engineer.”

“Lola is pleased to be present at the 2012 MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference and delighted to unveil the all-electric powered Lola-Drayson B12/69EV,” commented Robin Brundle, Lola Group Managing Director. “This innovative new project will evidence several new technologies with a variety of well-known technical suppliers, to show that zero carbon, clean racing can be fast and exciting whilst offering a stimulating engineering challenge.”

Drayson Racing is also working with Vantage Power on electric car development.

Lola-Drayson All-Electric Car to be unveiled at 2012 Low Carbon Racing Conference

6th MIA International Low Carbon Racing Conference at Autosport International

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Toyota PRIUS GT300 race car - Prius? Race car? Yes!

Rumors surfaced yesterday based on a report in a Japanese motorsports magazine that Toyota was planning to enter the Super GT race series with a GT300 class car based on a Prius.  Yup.  The Prius GT300.  Rather than start with Toyota's GT86 sports car, they're starting with a Prius.   Obviously they're looking to blow apart the stereotype of the Prius being a pokey family car, and get some testosterone into the brand.  Or something.

Not many details were available, not even an official confirmation.  The Toyota Motorsports website hasn't been updated in awhile, doesn't even have anything on that electric race car they took to the Nurburgring last summer.  We'll have to keep an eye out on for their list of entrants in next years series.  

Toyota PRIUS GT300 race car

Toyota Prius for the Super GT GT300

Overbearing Toyota Prius Super GT hypothetical figure exposure - also

Toyota reportedly to market Prius GT300 in Super GT racing instead of GT 86