The Growth of Electric Racing

The “Volkswagen ID R” electric race car has not only conquered Pikes Peak and claimed the events overall time. It now also holds the record time for an electric vehicle to lap The Nordschleife at 6:05.336. This time obliterated the previous electric vehicle record held by NIO EP9 by just under 40 seconds.

This feat by Volkswagen should not be taken lightly. It should be praised as a massive achievement to the motorsports community. This electric race car has set a faster time than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a production Lamborghini Huracán, and now sits second on The Nordschleife all-time lap record list behind only the preposterous Porsche 919 EVO.

The extraordinary thing about this lap record is observing the growth that electric vehicles have made in the two years between the attempt of the “NIO EP9” and the “Volkswagen ID R.” Couple that with the success of the Gen 2 Formula E car and it is possible to see a steady rise in electric racing. It wouldn’t be impossible to see some intwining within a major series like the World Endurance Championship.

Is it possible that the LMP1 class be replaced with an “LMPE” class? After all, that class of racing is supposed to showcase the technological advances of the automotive industry. I can see this as a natural progression of the LMP1 class that currently uses a hybrid engine that includes an electric motor that facilitates increased acceleration within the car.

Will the internal combustion engine eventually grow smaller and possibly become non-existent? With the FIA and AOC’s concept of a new GT1 class essentially evaporating into thin air, I believe that this could be a viable option toward the future for them.

Electric vehicles are exciting manufactures. Porsche has just announced their commitment to Formula E, where we have already seen their historic rivals of Audi and BMW become winners. Jaguar has created its own electric SUV series that are currently supporting Formula E during their race weekends. Tesla received the green light from the FIA to produce a series called Electric Production Car Series (EPCS). This series is where Tesla will prepare 20 Model S P100Ds that will be race-ready to compete on traditional racing circuits.

This kind of manufacture interest in electric power doesn’t just stop at 4-wheels. It has now extended to those that produce 2-wheel machines as MotoE has started their inaugural season this year and will accompany MotoGP for 5 of their 19 rounds.

There are still plenty of hurdles to jump and mountains to climb with electric racing. To dismiss their current existence within the world of motorsports is just naive because ready or not, here it comes.

Scott Masom

 

 

 

 

What is a Racing Purist Anyway?

https://www.motorsport.com/formula-e/news/red-bull-no-interest-formula-e/4326088

The definition of the word purist reads as follows:

a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures, especially in language or style.

According to Helmut Marko, advisor to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in Formula One, he and Red Bull Racing are “racing purists.” This kind of comment coming in an article on motorsports.com written by Alex Kalinauckas about why Red Bull hasn’t invested in Formula E, despite having multiple former Red Bull junior drivers competing in the series currently. It does seem like a logical place to put talented drivers who are looking to break through that tough F1 ceiling.

I can understand the stance of Red Bull not investing in Formula E from a branding standpoint. It isn’t as quick, as loud, or as “in-your-face” when compared to Formula One or Red Bull’s other ventures into Rally and Motocross. If it truly is a branding issue, I wouldn’t have any problem with Marko’s claims. It does make some sense, and I do believe that was the real intent behind Marko’s comments.

But we, as a motorsports community, need to break away from this “purist” thinking. Electronic racing is going to be here as long as there is a market for electric-powered cars and news flash, the market, and interest for these cars are growing. We should be celebrating that a racing series is finding success instead of undermining it at every turn.

At times, this seems quite literal toward Formula E.

I believe that “racing purists” would, in fact, race. They would adhere to the traditional rule of going fast no matter the machine they find themselves in. They’d conform to the structure of being first and never last. Racing purists would make the absolute best out of any racing opportunity.

We all have our favorite series and cars that make our hearts flutter but deep down inside; we are all motorsports enthusiasts. We should want to see a series flourish because it means more racing, more opportunities for greatness, and more chances for racers to try to make a name for themselves.

We need to stop thinking that racing should be one way because there isn’t a traditional way to race; not one superior style.

Racing is racing, Marko. Embrace it.

Scott Masom

Why Hate Formula E?

Still trying to break traditional racing stigmas, Formula E is quickly approaching their fifth season and looking stronger than ever. A new manufacturer, HWA RACELAB (will be Mercedes next season) has joined the all-electric series. Felipe Massa, Pascal Wherlein, and Stoffel Vandoorne will be new drivers competing against regulars like Sebastien Buemi and current series champion, Jean-Eric Vergne. Not to mention that the Gen2 car will make the much-awaited debut that will change the series and progress it forward.

So, why all the hate? Is it the racing on the track? Is it the circuits? Is it because manufacturers are becoming invested in electronic technology and hurting the tradition of what motorsports should be?

If it is about the racing on the track, I think you would need your eyes checked. Wheel-to-wheel action and drama in every round have been the norm in this series. The Gen2 car that the FIA has developed themselves is built for the racing Formula E has produced the previous four years. These cars seem to be built for the close quarters, and no holds bard that street racing can provide. They eliminated the traditional wings and put fenders on their “open-wheel” cars. Rubbings racing and I think there will be plenty of that this year.

The brilliance of Formula E is their circuits and the type of racing it does produce. I know what everyone is thinking “Scott, these circuits don’t resemble anything like a traditional race track.” I know, but you can argue that about any street course. We love the street courses of Long Beach, Toronto, and Monaco because of their prestige and history within the sport. If we wait long enough, I’m sure it will be that way in Formula E soon as well.

I got sidetracked as to what the brilliance truly is, forgive me. The brilliance is that this series can make a circuit anywhere. It goes to new markets like Saudi Arabia and Chile to race in their capital cities. It brought racing to the boroughs of New York City and has drivers fighting like gladiators through the streets of Rome. The reach of this series is not only global, but it can reach an entirely new audience that has never experience professional racing on this scale. That is the brilliance of this series that many tend to overlook.

It is no secret that without manufacturers, racing would mainly be impossible. This problem is the case for Formula One, DTM, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, etc. Formula E has no shortage of interest. Audi, Jaguar, BMW, and Nissan are all big-name car manufacturers that are using this platform to test their latest electric motor for their production cars. Brand names like Mahindra and Envision are companies that are using this series to test their latest electronic technology for their products not related to motorcars. The beauty of this series is its ability to attract manufactures outside of the traditional automakers.

Electric power is seen as the wave of the future, and this series will be the cutting edge for this type of technology. Manufacturers are buying into it because of the relatively cheap cost. Having a spec car means no development dollars going toward building one. A battery will be issued from McLaren for the Gen2 cars. All the manufacturers have to do is develop a motor to run the battery along with developing the hardware/ software to compliment.

The technological advancements that the series have taken in the last four years are staggering and have no signs of slowing. The racing is going to be fever-pitched, and the excitement is buzzing for the season opener December 15th in the capital city of Saudi Arabia.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention…no more car swaps.

Scott Masom