Initial report on REFUEL 2012 electric car and electric motorcycle racing at Laguna Seca

I had the best of intentions to post several quick reports from the track throughout the day at the REFUEL 2012 event, but did only the one.  Now it’s late at night and I just want to go to sleep.  But it’ll be good to write up a quick something about this awesome day of electric car and motorcycle racing at Laguna Seca.

First, the event was LOTS bigger than last years REFUEL race.  This is the fourth year of the REFUEL series, and it has simply gotten bigger and better every year.  What’s made the difference is that manufacturers are making real electric vehicles, in quantity, now.  The first REFUEL race in 2009 was a lot of conversion vehicles and a few Tesla Roadsters.  This year we had a whole flotilla of production electric motorcycles from Zero Motorcycles, and in the cars we had Tesla Roadsters, Nissan Leaf’s, BMW ActiveE’s, a souped up Coda electric sedan, a couple Chevy Volts, and, get this, six Tesla Model S’s, as well as a few conversion cars.

Unfortunately, of the top end electric motorcycles, only Brammo’s Empulse RR showed up.  Nobody from Lightning, MotoCzysz or Mission.  We’ll have to wait for the Laguna Seca e-Power/TTXGP for that, and even there it’s very unlikely Mission will show up.

There were maybe 30 electric cars in the race.  This was a seriously big grid of electric cars, and it was about 10000% awesome to see the track packed to the gills with electric cars.  And for them to be as awesome as the Tesla Model S is, was way more exciting than I could imagine.

I’m not going to post numbers yet – but in the time trial event, the Model S’s smoked the Roadsters.  Of the 25 cars in the time trial, the top three spots were won by Model S drivers.  Think about this – the Model S is a full size sedan, okay probably they were Performance models(?), and they beat Tesla Roadsters, which are ostensibly race cars!

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One little factoid about the Tesla results is that Joe Nuxoll, a former Tesla employee who is a racing instructor in his spare time, was not a driver for the Tesla team this year.  Perhaps the Tesla results would have been a bit better had he driven with them this time around.  Last year, when he was a Tesla employee, he drove a Roadster during the REFUEL event, and drove a 1:50 lap time in a Tesla Roadster.  This year, despite the Model S’s beating the Roadster’s this year, Joe’s 1:50 record stands unbroken.  According to Joe, some of the drivers for Tesla this year are good race drivers, and should have been able to beat his time, but they didn’t.

The Leaf’s did surprisingly well, in some cases, as did the souped up Coda.

In the motorcycles, the Brammo Empulse RR was of course about a zillion times faster than the Zero S’s.  The Zero S’s have a top speed of 88 miles/hr, and the Empulse RR can maybe hit 150 miles/hr.  Their lap times were close to 2:00, his was 1:40.  It’s too bad the proper competitors to the Empulse RR was not there.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

3 Comments

  1. That is sooo sweet that 6 Model 's showed up! Brian told me the fastest they went was a 1:40.2. Did they run faster in practice?

  2. Awesome. Is there a site that publishes the official times?

  3. 2011 results are posted:
    http://www.refuelraces.com/sportelectric.html

    Presumably the 2012 results will show up eventually in the same place.

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