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Electric racing cars


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#1 RTH

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 12:49

News today that Westfield are to build all electric racing sportscars for a new series

http://www.pistonhea...p?storyId=17397


......and that the Californian company Tesla in co-operation with Lotus are now making an all electric sports car for road use on sale to customers, based around the Elise capable of 130mph.

As Electric cars are nothing new and have been in existance for as long as cars have been made - more than a hundred years.......made me wonder about the history of electric racing cars in competition ? Evidently they were not successful but like everything else I am sure it must have been tried before ?

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#2 macoran

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 18:22

Nice chassis design, but as for racing one,...I rather prefer brm brm vroom noises from the enjin.

#3 ensign14

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 18:45

As you can imagine, there were electric cars in the pioneer racing days - an Electrobat and a Morrison in the Chicago Herald race that had a mighty attrition rate (the Electrobat DNS'd, the Morrison DNF'd). Chasseloup-Laubat's Jeanteaud was the first car to do a flying km in under a minute and Jenatzy's Jamais Contente was the first to do so for the mile in under a minute in 1898-9. But there were no long-term successes OTTOMH.

I remember someone about 15 years ago claiming to have developed an electric motor for a crack at Indianapolis, with Al Unser driving. The idea was that recharging stops would take about as long as fuel stops. But after an initial press announcement I heard nothing more.

#4 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 19:22

For about a decade, there were electric and steam-powered machines active -- and winning -- in American racing. In what has to be considered as perhaps the prototype event for much of what has followed in American racing (and perhaps the first true automobile race), keep in mind that the Narragansett Park event in September 1897 was won by a Riker, an electric vehicle. Also, the crash of the Baker Torpedo, an electric vehicle, on 30 May 1902 during the ACA's speed trials along South Shore Blvd on Staten Island, with a fatality and several serious injuries, caused the ACA to ban road racing for a period.

The electric machines (along with the electic interurban railroads for similar reasons) were dealt fatal blows by the petroleum cartel and the automobile manufacturers who opted for gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to propel their machines.

I have long found it laughable, if not utterly ridiculous, that formula keeps referring to itself as being the pinnacle of racing due to its technology, which seems to be an astounding statement considering that when you truly reduce the current machines to their basics, they actually differ very little from their precedessors from many, many decades ago. One might quibble about certain items, but it is still an internal combustion engine powering the machines. Not an electric or hybrid machine in sight on the grid. Nor even a Diesel-powered machine or one propelled by a fuel cell of some sort. Broken record -- scratched disc? -- to keep thinking this way in the view of many here and elsewhere, but technology in racing machines has always been an end unto itself, the "racing improves the breed" notion being long dead and done for many, many, many, many years. Any applicability of such an idea is for automobiles solely built for plutocrats or so outside the mainstream and in such miniscule numbers as to be irrelevant.

But, I digress....

#5 RTH

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:39

Some electric car history and links here, plus a glimpse in to the future ?

http://www.speedace....ectric_cars.htm

#6 ensign14

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:46

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
For about a decade, there were electric and steam-powered machines active -- and winning -- in American racing. In what has to be considered as perhaps the prototype event for much of what has followed in American racing (and perhaps the first true automobile race), keep in mind that the Narragansett Park event in September 1897 was won by a Riker, an electric vehicle.

These were all short races, weren't they? I suppose keeping a charge for long distance events kiboshed electric cars in the town-to-town events.

#7 Zoe

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 13:34

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
Not an electric or hybrid machine in sight on the grid. Nor even a Diesel-powered machine or one propelled by a fuel cell of some sort.


Not in F1 (I assume that's the series you're referring to), but in long-distance races Diesel engines (as much as I loathe them) have been used quite successfully since a couple of years.

Zoe

#8 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 17:17

In 1993 at the Long Beach Indycar event there was a support race for electric race cars. I was flagging, but at a pre race meeting some one asked what we should do if one crashed. The answer was treat it as usual, but if it catches, fire run like hell in the opposite direction!

#9 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 23:42

Electric motors are great...for power tools!
Diesel engines are great...for trucks!

Racing enthusiasts don't like to see (or hear) silent cars or low-revving diesels either.

Hybrids? Maybe...maybe...

#10 canon1753

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 04:31

My thought on the sounds is to have speakers installed to make them sound like real racers (Matra V12, BRM V16 etc).

Yes I am slightly mad...... :rotfl:

#11 Pavel Lifintsev

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:20

Back in 1993 Renault has built an experimental electric single-seater based on their current Formula Elf Campus car. According to the contemporary reports it was powered by almost standard Siemens 1PV5 alternating current motor equipped with an air/water heat exchanger. Lead/acid battery Fiamm Ecoforce VR40 supplied energy for the motor, which operated via 5-speed manual gearbox. The car was first shown during practice for Monaco Grand Prix. Jean Ragnotti did several demo laps, claimed to achieve 170 kph. I haven't heard anything of this project since then. Even Renault media site doesn't mention it amongst other concept cars.

Posted Image
Copyright: Renault
Picture posted on a principle of fair use and will be removed on request.


Some technical data:
Max power 50 kW/68 hp @ 4000 rpm
Max torque 125 Nm @ 0-3750 rpm
Wheelbase 2350 mm
Length 3659 mm
Width 1650 mm
Front/rear track 1380/1450 mm
Weight 740 kg
Battery weight 340 kg
Battery capacity 50 A-h
0-50 kph in 3.9 sec
0-100 kph in 11.0 sec
0-400 m in 18.0 sec
0-1000 m in 33.0 sec

Oh, and this is nostalgia?! :eek:

#12 275 GTB-4

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:33

Peugeot built electric cars in the 1920s...did they ever race?? :)

#13 Gary Davies

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:48

Originally posted by canon1753
My thought on the sounds is to have speakers installed to make them sound like real racers (Matra V12, BRM V16 etc).

Yes I am slightly mad...... :rotfl:


No you're not. Don's point is right and assuming we haven't fried the planet in the meantime, motor racing with vehicles powered by noisy and smelly things may well become ancient history.

More than once I've speculated how the public, the designers, the promoters and the sponsors will cope with that. Your solution will most probably be on the money, once again demonstrating the propensity our species has for enthusiastic self delusion.

#14 RTH

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 11:09

Originally posted by ensign14

These were all short races, weren't they? ..........



.......Suppose they were limited by the length of the flex ! ;)

#15 drionita

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 11:49

Didn't Chrysler build a Hybrid sportcar called Patriot at the beginning of 1994? I can remember something like that but I don't remember if it has both electric and combustion engine.

#16 Frank S

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:16

Couple months ago I raced against an electric car in the eighth-mile drags at Qualcomm Stadium's Friday night RaceLegal event. Eerie how quiet. Not so eerie, how quickly it accelerated.

It's a Daytona Cobra replica, looks very nice, but there is a jumble of geegaws and whatsises visible through the back glass. I'll try to get a picture this Friday, if it shows up.

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San Diego CA
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#17 canon1753

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 02:45

Originally posted by drionita
Didn't Chrysler build a Hybrid sportcar called Patriot at the beginning of 1994? I can remember something like that but I don't remember if it has both electric and combustion engine.


It was a flywheel and a LPG fueled turbine. It never really worked and I think there was a fatality involved so it was cancelled.

#18 HistoricMustang

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 21:11

Originally posted by Vanwall

Don's point is right and assuming we haven't fried the planet in the meantime, motor racing with vehicles powered by noisy and smelly things may well become ancient history.


The planet is not going anywhere, so after a re-build perhaps the next group will have just as much fun. :smoking:

#19 HistoryFan

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 17:06


I remember someone about 15 years ago claiming to have developed an electric motor for a crack at Indianapolis, with Al Unser driving. The idea was that recharging stops would take about as long as fuel stops. But after an initial press announcement I heard nothing more.

 

Are there more details about that?



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#20 HistoryFan

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 17:20

In 1993 at the Long Beach Indycar event there was a support race for electric race cars. I was flagging, but at a pre race meeting some one asked what we should do if one crashed. The answer was treat it as usual, but if it catches, fire run like hell in the opposite direction!

 

Were that Formula Racing cars or what cars were that?



#21 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 17:27



I remember someone about 15 years ago claiming to have developed an electric motor for a crack at Indianapolis, with Al Unser driving. The idea was that recharging stops would take about as long as fuel stops. But after an initial press announcement I heard nothing more.

 

No kidding! :rotfl:



#22 D-Type

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 18:11

Could the plan have been to change battery packs rather than recharge them?



#23 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 18:33

Good thought! Maybe they tried to get permission from the rulemakers for this, and failed to. That would have rendered the plan hopeless!



#24 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 02:22

Electric motors are great...for power tools!
Diesel engines are great...for trucks!

Racing enthusiasts don't like to see (or hear) silent cars or low-revving diesels either.

Hybrids? Maybe...maybe...

Electric motors are great when hooked up to a constant power source,, eg mains power. And convenient for short term on batteries. But electric racecars or hybrids are just a waste of time.
I saw electric motorcycles racing on TV. Boring, very unstable with the 'constant' power delivery and as exciting to watch as watching grass grow. And they did race electric cars a 100 years ago,, and steam cars and petrol engines won out then.
IF they are so good put them in normal racing with an equivilancy factor. Or leave them for milk floats and industrial use where they are very convenient.

#25 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 02:24

Couple months ago I raced against an electric car in the eighth-mile drags at Qualcomm Stadium's Friday night RaceLegal event. Eerie how quiet. Not so eerie, how quickly it accelerated.

It's a Daytona Cobra replica, looks very nice, but there is a jumble of geegaws and whatsises visible through the back glass. I'll try to get a picture this Friday, if it shows up.

--
Frank S
San Diego CA
USA

But can it do the full quarter!
IF you can hook it up it would be actually quite interesting for drag racing. But have no atmosphere!