Topic: "Racing" the Duff Beer Electric Car
Just a little background; after our win at Barber, it was time to make the Duff car faster and move it to A or to find another ride. While we love the Duff car and it's served us well for 7 years, it's time to move on. See you around Duff car:
After some team discussion, we decided to build a cheaty fast class A car, but we were short of time before the CMP fall race, so we thought that we'd do something ridiculous for a change. We've always admired teams like Speedycop, NSF, Sputnik, and many others who bring hopeless, but entertaining cars, and we've never done anything like that, so we figured we'd give it a shot.
After a quick review of local Craigslist ads, we found a 1981 Jet Electrica 007 (that was actually a real car, Google it), which was easily the most hopeless car that we'd ever seen. Ricky and I dragged it back to the shop:
Other than it's innate horribleness as a car, it wasn't in bad shape. We fixed a few minor mechanical and electrical gremlins, and it was ready to go. Ricky tagged it and I drove it around town for a while. This plan might actually work.
Then the crazy part started.
To power it, we needed batteries, and Sam's Club deep cycle 12v batteries seemed like the cheapest option. We'd need 10 of them (120V DC) to run the car for 18 or so miles, and we'd want extra sets so we didn't have to wait for hours in between runs. After cleaning out 8 or 9 Sam's Clubs in 2 states, we collected 31 batteries (needed one extra to run the 12v electrical system).
Then we'd need to charge them. That required 20 chargers, or more. I started ordering chargers off of eBay, and just kept bidding. There was no way that we'd power that many chargers (a 20A battery charger pulls 5A of AC) off of the sketchy CMP electrical power, but the RV had a 10KW generator that would power 14 of them, while Sam's Club had a cheap generator that would power the remaining 6, so we ran two generators all weekend:
We figured it would be slow, so we attached kid's bicycle safety flags to it so everyone could see it and stayed full track right at all times:
Ricky's first stint went okay, but my stint was a disaster, overheating the motor and killing the batteries in a couple of laps. We quickly determined that racing was different from street driving. You are on throttle a lot more and the motor never gets a chance to rest like it does in street driving. This leads to heat buildup and takes you out of the race. Eventually we worked out how to keep it on track. We could only go for 6 laps on a set of batteries (3 laps, 20 minute cooldown, then 3 more laps), and had to adhere to the following rules:
Never let it go under 30 MPH
Never let it go over 40 MPH
Never use more than 100A
Never use the brakes
That seemed to keep it running, albeit slowly and for short stints. Then we just had to swap out 1700 pounds of batteries and get the old ones on the chargers so we could do another 6 laps. That seems reasonable.
Once we got it sorted out, we came up with a goal for the weekend, which was to double the previous lap record for an electric car and to not get towed off track, so we needed 52 laps and for the 35 year old electric drive system and vintage Chrysler L-body running gear to work flawlessly. Again, that seems reasonable.
By the end of the first day we had a smoothly operating system and crossed under the checker with 27 laps, a new electric car record. By the end of day 2 we crossed under the final checker with 55 laps and drove it on the trailer.
I have never worked so hard or spent so much or been so happy for 55 laps.
Phil and Jay put us in a new class, Class E, which we won by 55 laps, and awarded us the IOE-e, which comes with a free entry to the next race if we bring an electric car.
After some discussion, it looks like we'll be back at Barber with the electric car. Preliminary goals for the next race are:
Be able to go 70 MPH in race conditions
Double the previous record, so 110 laps or better
Do not get towed off
Pass another running car on track (other than the minivan that was going backwards, on fire, and driverless, I mean, technically it was running on track and we passed it, but we really don't count that one)
Post a lap time that is not the slowest time of the weekend.
We'll see you guys at Barber.