For the past few years, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) has allowed exhibition runs of pure electric vehicles during its national events. The first laps came from Chevrolet’s eCOPO Camaro while Funny Car standout Bob Tasca III has shown off Ford’s Mustang CobraJet 1400 at a variety of tracks. In any case, the cars have been limited to 10-second passes down the quarter-mile and 140mph. NHRA told the exhibitors of both electric vehicles that they’d be unable to run again if they were quicker and faster.
Things are changing, as they always do in motorsports. For the 2022 Summit Racing Series, NHRA has announced a new Street Legal EV class is being added to the largest motorsports program in the world with as many as 80,000 racers competing in Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman and Motorcycle categories across the vast number of NHRA’s North American member tracks. The EV class is being added to that compilation and will join other classes with their National Championship round, returning to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the weekend of October 27-30, as part of NHRA’s penultimate Camping World Drag Racing Series race and the finale for FuelTech Pro Mod.
Division winners in the new EV class will race for a National Championship for the first time and will be part of the $140,000 purse paid out to the 40 competitors attending the finals outside Las Vegas. “Summit Racing has been a proud supporter of the NHRA Summit Racing Series for more than 20 years,” noted Jim Greenleaf, Summit Racing Equipment’s motorsports and events manager. “We’re always looking for ways to expand the series and creating the EV class allows these racers to compete against each other for a national championship. To us,” Greenleaf added, “it was the next natural progression for the series.”
Adding EV to the Summit Series gives both EV racers and NHRA partners an ideal platform to develop new technology and, heeding NHRA founder Wally Parks’ emphasis on circuit racing, to compete in a safe and competitive environment. All Summit Racing national champions crowned in Sin City receive a Wally trophy, champion’s jacket and purse (including contingency awards), along with $3,000 bonus money to attend the national championship in Las Vegas.
This new EV category is reserved for domestic and foreign OEM production electric vehicle automobiles and trucks. All entries must be street driven and must be able to pass all state highway safety requirements and retain all OEM safety features. Drivers must carry a state-issued proof of registration and valid insurance information, together with a valid license plate or plates.
NHRA Sportsman Racing Manager Sara Walker stated, “We are thrilled to give EV racers a chance to compete in their own class in the NHRA Summit Series, from the member track level to joining us in Las Vegas for the inaugural EV national championship. As the automotive industry continues to develop new technology, we’re fortunate – in drag racing – to have the ability to add this new category while also continuing to focus on the traditional classes that have been supported by NHRA racers for decades.”
As set forth on April 19th of this year, NHRA issued a two-page rules package for the Street Legal EV class. Cars eligible range from 2008 to current models. In the 2008-2013 OEM model-year grouping, cars are permitted to run no quicker than 10,00 seconds and/or no faster than 135 mph (*6.40 eighth-mile). For those cars and trucks from 2014 to current models, vehicles may run no quicker than 9-sec and/or faster than 150 mph (*5.65 eighth-mile). Drivers in EVs slower than 11.50 (*7.35 eighth-mile) and/or slower than 135 mph are required to wear long pants and an NHRA-accepted helmet.
Drivers in vehicles quicker than 11.49-sec (*7.35 eighth-mile or slower than 9.00-sec or faster than 135 mph, or slower than 150 mph, are required to wear a minimum of SFI 3.2A/1 jacket, long pants, and helmet.
NHRA is making certain that unaltered OEM antilock brakes, airbag functions, stock frame/unibody construction (including floors and firewall) as well as all other OEM safety-related systems (including propulsion and battery systems, seats and seatbelts), must be functioning as per manufacturers specifications. All vehicles must be in non-autonomous, self-drive mode, making application and release of throttle and brakes a total function of the driver.
Cars may use tires other than OEM on their electric racing vehicles, but they must be DOT-approved. Even convertibles are acceptable: convertibles quicker than 13.49 (*8.25 eighth-mile) and T-tops quicker than 11.49 (*7.35 eighth-mile) must meet Summit Racing Series roll-bar and roll-cage requirements. An NHRA Level 6 or 7 license is required for all drivers.
NHRA will allow battery recharging in the pits or other designated areas only. Batteries must be charged utilizing either the original unaltered OEM charger, or an unaltered commercially available charging system, that will watch individual cell levels and have redundant ways to shut off the charging system i case of an overcharge condition.
There are going to be division finals in all Summit Racing Series classes, including the new EV category, prior to the Las Vegas national championship round:
2022 NHRA Summit Racing Series Finals Schedule
Division 1 – Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa., Sept. 22-24
Division 2 – South Georgia Motorsports Park, Valdosta, Ga., Oct. 7-9
Division 3 – Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Indianapolis, Sept. 16-18
Division 4 – Ardmore Dragway, Ardmore, Okla., Sept. 16-17
Division 5 – Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, Kan., Sept. 16-17
Division 6 – Firebird Raceway, Boise, Idaho, Sept. 2-4
Division 7 – The Strip at Las Vegas Motorsport Speedway, Las Vegas, Sept. 30-Oct. 2
NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championship
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Oct. 27-30
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