August 23, 2011

MR. TRICKLE ENVY TRUMPS RANGE HYSTERIA:

Electric NASCAR Racing? Yes, It Could Happen Soon (Jim Motavalli, August 1, 2011, B-NET)

[N]ASCAR is definitely going green. Spokesman Scott Warfield points to E15 ethanol fuel in the tanks of all three national series, to solar initiatives at Pocono and other tracks, and to big recycling ongoing programs. Infineon is in ultra-green northern California, which perhaps helps to explain the lawn-mowing sheep in the infield and the Panasonic solar arrays (providing 41 percent of the track's electricity) on six buildings.

Infineon Raceway's Page says that track operators and NASCAR officials are "throwing some ideas around, though we get blank stares from some people. The cars will need to have enough range to be credible." The EV Cup races are only 25 miles, compared to 350 to 400 miles for many NASCAR races. One way to make electric races longer is with fast-change battery swapping, which could be quite an exciting pit visual. Crews change tires in seconds, and they could undoubtedly do a battery pack in a minute. Safety standards are in the works for just such swapping.

NASCAR won't say much on the record about electric racing on the record, though it is looking into it. According to spokesman John Schwartz, "We're constantly evaluating ways to reduce our sport's impact on the environment."

Early Attempts at Experimenting

In the meantime, NASCAR tracks are dipping their toes in the water with exhibition races and special events. One thing's for sure, electric motors have total torque right off the line, and these cars aren't slow. The Westfield iRacer developed for the EV Cup series has a zero to 60 time under five seconds. At Laguna Seca last week, a Mission Motors electric cycle set a track record with a one-minute, 47-second lap. The Rocket electric drag racer has seven-second quarter-mile times.


Posted by at August 23, 2011 5:22 AM
  

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