Why Electrathon

 

ProEV's SuperCoupe Electrathon

ProEV personnel are all experienced ICE (internal combustion engine) racers. Our original belief was that electric racing is ICE racing with a different drive source. The drive train was modified to electric power but otherwise our first vehicle, the Electric Imp, was a well executed ICE race car. We then went out and proved that a battery powered car could compete with, and defeat gas powered race cars under the right conditions.

We also discovered that EV racing is as close to ICE racing as ICE racing is to horse drawn carriage racing. In both cases, the core technical change is the drive source. In both cases, the early designers built based on principles that had been, but were no longer, the most important priorities. We, at ProEV, have built an impressive electric powered 'gas' race car, a modern version of the 'horseless carriage'.

Race car design is always a matter of finding the right balance between competing demands. For example, a more powerful motor requires beefier components which make the car heavier. Balance the gain of the extra power against the penalty of the extra weight. Or more aerodynamic downforce makes the car faster in the corners and slower on the straight. These compromises are well understood. ICE race cars have evolved based on these truths.

EV racing's different physical requirements change the accepted balances of these compromises. An EV race car designer needs to go back and question some basic ICE truths.

A longer article about why and how EV racing is different from ICE racing is here.

To refine our understanding and build better EV race vehicles, we need to compete in a series that is both inexpensive and has the most technological open rules. We want low cost and freedom to try anything.

Electrathon is that series. The rules can be summed up as going as fast as possible, carrying a 180 lb (ballast allowed) driver in a vehicle that will not tip over when not moving, powered by no more than 73 lbs of lead acid batteries. There are some basic safety rules: mirrors; seat belts; safe chassis.

Electrathon vehicles can be built or bought used for under $1,000. Race costs can be easily under $100 including entry fees and tires.

The races are generally 1 hour long. This limits speed as it is difficult to go too fast and still finish the race. That being said, the record average speed for an hour is over 62 MPH.

The EV's can be fun to drive. Tire grip is limited and motor torque can be powerful. It is a combination that requires fast hands and precise throttle control.

The basic truth in electric vehicle racing is that power storage adds weight. By fixing the amount of weight allowed for power storage, racers are forced to concentrate on getting the best use of the power available.

Understanding what works for electrathon racing will give us an understanding of where to start the designs for more powerful EV race cars. ProEV's next EV race car will look more like the future than the past.

 


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