Saturday, December 14, 2013

eMotoRacing rules & open letter: The new electric motorcycle racing series for North America

A few weeks ago we broke news that Arthur Kowitz and a few collaborators were planning to launch a new electric motorcycle racing series for North America.  They've been busy building interest, putting together rules, and other organizational stuff ahead of their first scheduled race in February.

Between the Open Letter and the Rules we see an organization that's starting out with flexibility and openness presumably to allow as many racers to participate as possible.  Keeping it open will be good, because what we all need is more electric racing.

There are a couple small, potentially sticky, points:
  • The rules aren't allowing full fairings, and probably don't allow a feet-forward design.  While the primary purpose of this is to establish electrically powered racing, some had long seen the TTXGP as an opportunity to bring full streamlining back into racing.  With the switch from TTXGP to eRoadRacing, those rules dropped the allowances for full streamlining, to focus on electric racing.  I see the eMotoRacing rules make the same decision.
  • The weight is limited to 600 lbs.  TTXGP history includes a serious problem in 2010 for one TTXGP participant, Chip Yates, who had originally planned to enter the TTXGP but his design choices led to a bike that was too heavy for TTXGP's rules.  There was acrimony.  The 2010 TTXGP rules had a slightly higher weight limit, 650 lbs if I recall right.   Lightning Motorcycles might not fit the 600 lbs. weight limit.  On the other hand, racers do better with lighter bikes.
Neither of these points are what I'd call a "flaw".  While I might have personally preferred there to be allowance for full streamlining, I accept the desire to focus on electric racing as the primary goal.  The weight limit is debatable, but the field does need to keep moving towards the size/weight/functionality of the gassers and I'd expect the gasoline superbikes to weigh much less than 600 lbs.

It's interesting that the rules open the door to other propulsion systems, as long as they're zero emissions.  I suppose they mean tailpipe emissions, or else a biofuel powered bike could enter and clean everyones clock.  That is, many claim that cellulosic ethanol or biodiesel or whatever should count as zero emissions, because those fuels do not come from fossil oil and hence do not add new carbon into the atmosphere.  That's how NASCAR or IndyCar gets away with claiming to be clean, while still running ultra loud liquid fueled vehicles around a track. 

Yesterday, Arthur posted an Open Letter calling on motorcyclists to participate:

Hello Race fans,

Many of us in the USA have longed for a venue that embraces motorcycle racing for the future.  We have now set the table for racers, engineers, and innovators to stretch their wings and show us their stuff.
For 2014, AHRMA and eMotoRacing have committed to a full season of exhibition roadracing at 10 of America's favorite racetracks, covering every region in the USA.

Rules that encourage innovation, while maintaining a high value on safety, have been published.  Race entries are now easy and very affordable.

Now it is on us, the progressive motorsports fan, to build, enter, encourage, enlist, recruit, and help in every way to fill the grids with racers. We need entrants.

Lets all help by encouraging university engineering departments, ebike manufacturers, current gas bike racers, ebike dealers, garage raceshops, track officials, journalists, and potential sponsors to participate.

Visit the website, or eMotoRacing on Facebook for continuing information.

I thank everyone who has already jumped in to help, and everyone who will do their part in the coming weeks and months.

You can start by forwarding this letter to blogs, groups, sites, and individuals interested in our sport.

Arthur Kowitz

A few days ago he sent me these rules:
  1. All propulsion shall be void of emissions. Measured, at full charge, battery storage of electricity that drives an electric motor shall determine class.  Voltage is not to exceed 500 volts.
  2. All racebikes with a peak measured voltage up to 125 volts will run in eSuperSport. All racebikes with a peak measured voltage over 125 volts will run in eGrandPrix
  3. Means other than battery powered electric of Zero emission propulsion are permitted, such as flywheel, gravity, magnetism, etc. Overall sound limit is 100db.
  4. Motorcycle shall be able to freewheel in case of propulsion system failure or loss of power.
  5. Motorcycle overall width shall not be over 35". maximum overall length is 110".
  6. Maximum weight is not to exceed 600lbs.
  7. Streamlining shall not extend more than 6" beyond the overall length of the unfaired overall bike length. a. Leading 1/3 of front wheel must be visible from the side. b. Rider must be able to get on and off motorcycle with no assistance from others. c. Rider must be able to hold bike vertical while in stopped position. d. There must be no protruding or otherwise hazardous fixtures on motorcycle. e. Riders hands and feet must remain at controls while riding
  8. Number plates to be white with black numbers.
  9. Tire warmers are permitted.
  10. Racebikes shall have an audible horn operated by a handlebar mounted button (to warn others while riding on pit road or in paddock).
  11. Handlebars shall be sturdy with no repairs by welding or clamping.
  12. Light alloy wheel axles or swing arm axles are prohibited.
  13. All electric wiring and connectors are to be substantially insulated, secure and circuit-protected to assure safety from damage, power leakage or short-circuiting.
  14. Areas of high voltage are to be protected from damage in case of crash and plainly marked to protect personnel that may not be familiar with each particular motorcycle..such as corner workers, etc.
  15. When the vehicle is powered on there shall be a flashing red light at the bikes rear and another light on the dashboard visable to the rider.
  16. All Racebikes shall have reliable, easily accessed, and plainly marked emergency disconnect switch on the rear tail of the motorcycle. This switch must turn off all sources of power with one throw.
  17. All Racebikes must be presentable, and built in a workmanlike manner.

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