Fuel economy has continued to stay top of mind for drivers throughout the United States causing a rise in the request for alternative sources, including electricity. In fact, over 90,000+ electric vehicles were sold in the United States last year.
As this form of fuel savings sweeps across the country, the drag racing world is also witnessing a glimpse into the future thanks to the National Electric Drag Racing Association. Founded in 1997 by a group of amp heads, this membership organization is currently holding drag racing events throughout the country, where competitors are proving that it doesn’t take a combination of racing fuel and nitrous to post some of the fastest times possible.
“Many of us drivers who compete on the electric side of racing began on oval short tracks,” said NEDRA Executive Vice President Lowell Simmons. “Unfortunately, we weren’t seeing the type of exciting racing that is available through drag racing with NEDRA where we are currently posting speeds as high as 6.94 at 201.37 mph.”
While not on the track, Simmons is also a full time automotive service technology instructor at Miramar High School, in Miramar, FL, who spends most of his time teaching students how to convert full size gas guzzling automobiles into its electronic counterpart.
“This educational program began in 1996 after Florida Power and Light approached our county’s school board to begin developing this country’s automotive future, electric cars,” said Simmons. “While our first project involved converting a 1993 Ford Probe into a street driven electric car, we have begun mixing in electric drag racing projects including The Black Pearl.”
Simmons Electric Porsche 944, nicknamed The Black Pearl, began breaking records within its first few runs.
“In one of my first exhibition runs I set a speed record of 19.884 at a speed of 56.17 mph on the 1/4 mile drag strip at Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly Moroso Motorsports Park),” said Simmons. “As the years have gone by, I have seen more speed and performance from this car, in fact I recently set another recent record of 9.880 at a speed of 132.62 at the same track.”
What is the secret behind this power? “Although I can attribute it to many things, the most important part of any EV racer is the battery pack,” said Simmons. “Myself and many other NEDRA competitors have been fortunate enough to partner with companies like High Tech Systems, in Denver, Colorado, who has produced electric volt battery packs for myself and other top performing drivers.”
Simmons continues to compete in his street legal Porsche 944 across the US and says that he also owes a lot of his success to sponsor Lawless Industries.
“Lawless Industries/Racing Owner Shawn Lawless has been instrumental in both funding and building numerous award winning drag cars for NEDRA drivers,” said Simmons. “In fact, Shawn’s electric drag bike, nicknamed Rocket, is the quickest electric vehicle ever run.”
So what does it take to build an Electronic Volt dragster that can outperform it’s counterparts? If you ask NEDRA President, John Metric his first response is battery technology.
“Quality battery cells are the first component that any team or driver needs to be competitive. The voltage will depend on which class and type of drag machine the competitor has. Fortunately, NEDRA is lucky to have relationships with suppliers like Lone Star EV Performance and High Tech Systems who aid drivers like myself in performing at the top of our game.”
Dreaming of a future in electric drag racing? Remember there will be other expenses associated with turning your every day street driver into a lean, mean drag strip machine, including:
- Electric motor or motors
- Motor control unit
- Lithium batteries
- High Power Charger
What are the benefits? Although there are initial start up costs associated with this form of racing, according to Metric the benefits, including no longer needing to weigh your budget on the rising cost of racing fuel, are unsurpassed.
“Although we get about 400HP in each motor, many people don’t take us seriously until we tell them our times,” said Metric. “We get huge acceleration off the line! In fact, I would compare it to launching like a rocket.”
Although launching much quieter than most fans are used to, the excitement of seeing a car go from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds is pretty cool in this writer’s opinion. All without having to leave the track with the smell of racing fuel following you.
Another benefit that actually launched the popularity of racing, could also benefit the drag racing world. As the old saying goes, ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’. It has been years since the sport of drag racing could find any ties to the mass-produced automotive industry. The growth of EV drag racing could change all of this.
“Many of the NEDRA competitors have street legal cars that are excellent representatives of how an electric car can perform,” said Simmons.
What does the future hold for electronic drag racing and the NEDRA? As motorsports continues to drift to alternative sources of fuel and energy, the interest in electronic racing is sure to continue. In fact, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) began the Formula E Series this season while the American Le Mans Series is also jumping on board. It is only a matter of time before EV racing becomes the norm in drag racing.
“We currently have hundreds of NEDRA members who are competing on every kind of track throughout the nation and even in parts of Europe,” said Metric. “The NHRA and IHRA also adopted NEDRA safety rules years ago as well.”
The Burnout gives you a sneak peak into the future of drag racing
(featuring NEDRA President John Metric)
(featuring NEDRA Vice President Lowell Simmons)