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Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 14 Mar 2012, 02:58
by Crash
Below is a bit of a background on why EV car racing is needed in Australia and a bit of a discussion starter on how it might get going. The purpose is to ask whether there may be enough people interested in getting involved in grass roots EV racing to get a competition started and what sort of vehicles there is the most interest in getting involved in.


There are some great reasons why EV racing is important to the EV movement including generating interest in the technology, developing a skills and knowledge in ev technology, accelerating innovation and technology development creating a market place for performance EV and demonstrating to the broader public the performance potential of EV's. Not suprisingly these all align really well with the objectives of the AEVA.
After looking around the web for a while including the links in this forum, it seems that there are a few EV racing events in Australia for motorbikes and drag cars are competing at drag racing events.
The premier Australian event for electric cars focusses on solar cars and it requires significant resources and time to compete in this event.
There are also one or two events which are efficiency trials rather than racing such the WA EV Challenge which are open to members of the public and a few forum members including myself have been involved in these events. There are also Formulae SAE events which are starting to include electric or hybrid vehicles now, but these are for teams of university students.
Internationally there is an active EV community and events occurring in California are commercial interests such as the EV Cup group looking to establish an electric vehicle formula but these do not look like something thats going to be very accessible to most EV enthusiasts in the short term.
CAMS Australia set up a committee to look at green motorsport a couple of years ago and there has been some progress in identifying opportunities to to make motorsport more sustainable. Its good to see they are starting to address energy issues but an organisation with a long history around advocating fossil fuel racing is not likely to take on an EV racing leadership role overnight.

So how does a racing movement start? I've read or seen talks on a couple of movements including dirt karting, mountain biking ( Charles Leadbeater on Innovation includes origins of Mountain Biking ) and biographies of Colin Chapman and history of Lotus ( Lotus Cars website, history )makes for interesting reading on how motorsport and F1 evolved in the UK in the 50's and 60's. The history of the World Solar Challenge is also a good example. In each case, success has been the result of a small group of dedicated and passionate enthusiasts that have got together, got organised and organised an event or events and when it has been around for a few years it starts to gather momentum because people can have some confidence to invest time and money in the equipment required.

So some questions are
- is there enough people and in what locations around Australia to get a small group of people together that would be prepared to build and race a car for a category that doesn't exist yet?
- what sort of categories are of most interest? Electric karting, an electric open wheeler event, converted road cars or an evolution of EV Challenge or World Solar Challenge cars
- how important is opportunity for innovative design, cost considerations, close racing and spectator value?

There is a great opportunity not to try and fit into existing car racing categories and to allow a more open design of vehicle (karts included) that embraces the new opportunities and packaging that is possible with EV's

regards
Wayne



[url=mailto:ganhaar@me.com]Wayne Prangnell[/url]

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 14 Mar 2012, 06:33
by Adverse Effects
people dont watch racing to see cars go around a track

people do watch racing to see cars go around the track and in to each other and in to walls at high speed

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 14 Mar 2012, 16:41
by Crash
Club events and grass roots racing is about competing rather than spectating. You can go to speedway if you just want to see cars hit the wall.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 14 Mar 2012, 20:53
by bladecar
Wayne said:


"So some questions are
- is there enough people and in what locations around Australia to get a small group of people together that would be prepared to build and race a car for a category that doesn't exist yet?
- what sort of categories are of most interest? Electric karting, an electric open wheeler event, converted road cars or an evolution of EV Challenge or World Solar Challenge cars
- how important is opportunity for innovative design, cost considerations, close racing and spectator value?

There is a great opportunity not to try and fit into existing car racing categories and to allow a more open design of vehicle (karts included) that embraces the new opportunities and packaging that is possible with EV's

regards
Wayne"


This is what I can think up    Image

How about one car per EV club.

Decide on one format for all classes (light-weight construction, commercial vehicles, drag cars, economy class, sheer-performance class).

One format means that all cars have a means to show their energy usage at all times.   This might be an led sign on all 4 sides where the information is clear enough to be seen by average binoculars readily. This might also be mobile phones with information by local-area which can show detailed energy usage for individual cars or summary for each car on one extended page, when the car numbers get high enough.

My idea of this is that from economy class to muscle class, the information obtainable by visual or electronic to a hand-held device is relative.   By that, I mean that energy usage for each car can be compared directly to any other car or class using appropriate units.

So, mpg or l/100km or km/l would be something different, chosen to be as informative about how each vehicle performs relative to any other vehicle or type of vehicle.

So, maybe there would be a race type where final results were modified by energy usage, or energy usage + time to recharge + energy required. Lots of fun stuff like that which 'spectators' would have access to.

The circuits that they race on would be quite modest in length with technical performance of the cars the initial aim.

These are first thoughts.   If anyone else is interested and have lots of different ideas, I might edit this slightly, or totally, since I come up with not-well-thought-about ideas in the first place.

But, what do you reckon, a carefully worked-out initial class, aimed to perform but within definite parameters, possibly raced in isolation initially (each club would race their car over a given distance and simply compare results initally so that long-distance travel was unnecessary) and then, after quite some time, a meeting of the champions.

One other thing, if app-type information was to be used to follow races, even while at the circuit, maybe a common effort between all clubs to establish that software and what it should be able to do.

Pie in the sky?   Probably    Image

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Sat, 17 Mar 2012, 16:51
by BigMouse
I was playing with the idea of building an EV specifically for use in motorkhana events. It's something that could stand alone or even be entered into an existing class (though it would probably end up in one it wouldn't be competitive in). One car runs at a time, which means it would get quite a lot of attention.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Sat, 17 Mar 2012, 20:27
by Johny
A purpose built EV would do very well in mototkhana I think. The lower speeds and reasonably short events could be accomplished with a high energy output low capacity pack making the vehicle quite light. I had idly wondered about hill climb too.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Mon, 19 Mar 2012, 20:26
by Faz
Karts would be a good place to start. The cost involved in building/converting a passenger vehicle to electric would limit the number of people competing to a select few. Karts mean less batteries (cheaper), easier to get to the track (more convenient and cheaper), and cheaper controllers and motors.

Or you could just join the existing electric motorcycle racing competition, with all the benefits of above.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Mon, 19 Mar 2012, 21:17
by Catavolt
Hi
Here is some links to some existing competitions that I know of.
http://www.formula-xtreme.com.au/xtreme ... enDocument

http://evchallenge.org.au/Ev_Challenge/Home.html

http://www.evehicles.com.au/Racing-Pocket.shtml

http://www.hunterevfestival.net/ev-priz ... ize-rules/
The Hunter EVprize is free to enter , the organizers are also open to discussions adding other events to the day as the track gets booked out for the day and is only used for a couple of hours.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 23:32
by Crash
Faz, Agree with you regarding karts. We have spoken to some Kart Clubs but there is not a lot of interest from the Karting groups, but this could change if there were some electric karts to see and get people interested. There are a few around the world and have seen video of an electric kart from the UK at a few circuits in Australia. Is there anyone interested in getting a local electric karting group going?
If you couldn't afford to get into an on road EV this would be a cheap and seriously fun alternative.




Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 23:47
by Crash
Bladecar,
Agree energy usage in motorsport is important, particularly if motorsport is to contribute to improving efficiency of cars. Having info available to people is proving to be very interesting to fans in the top formulas. For a start up or grass roots type events, this could also be achieved by classifying EV's by battery weight for each battery chemistry. By limiting battery weights this would help keep costs under control and the technical focus would be on battery technology, regen, overall efficiency to get the best use of the power from a fixed size battery.
The approach in ICE cars has typically been to classify by engine capacity which results in engines getting more powerful, often at the expense of efficiency.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 23:56
by Crash
Big Mouse said
"I was playing with the idea of building an EV specifically for use in motorkhana events. It's something that could stand alone or even be entered into an existing class (though it would probably end up in one it wouldn't be competitive in). One car runs at a time, which means it would get quite a lot of attention."

Motorkhana would be ideal as you could run a very light car with a tiny battery pack I can see you could be very successful with an EV in Motorkhana. Have you made any enquiries about whether an EV would be permitted under the current regs? If you were very successful, you would get other competitors looking at EV power, either that or trying to get EV's banned from racing.

A hill climb would be good to if you were looking for more of a speed event.


Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 21 Mar 2012, 06:03
by Wellsey
Hi all,
After some research into Karting and how we can introduce electric karts I found that all roads lead to the FAI. All of the local and national karting clubs and associations comply to the international standards.

A couple of things to remember is that karting folk dedicate their time, money and energy to the competitive sport they love, more often than not travelling all over the countryside to attend events, so they are very committed to the cause.

Folk like us are not seen as being committed to this motor sport, rather, we're more interested in the technology and just dabbling more than dedicating every other weekend travelling around building a driving career UNTIL we can demonstrate electric superiority under their rules which can be found here: http://www.fia.com/sport/Regulations/altregs.html

I think to start with, we'll have to create a kart that can snap in and out ICE/electric drives easily to eliminate have to have a dedicated kart for ICE/electric. Track side swap over should take a maximum of 10 minutes.

Regards, Brad

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 22 Mar 2012, 01:41
by Coulomb Racing
Thanks Crash for bringing this subject up,

I have been meaning to have this conversation with you for awhile. You are part of the River Raiders Team if I am not mistaken.
I have done all the calculations and the eV challenge with good specs, wheels and low co-efficient of drag, with current energy budget the maximum speed is around 40 kph so we are approaching that limit pretty close and so innovation and design will become increasingly more important. Whilst this is good for encouraging design and increased efficiency I believe it will not provide for higher speed events that attract spectators and thus spread the value and race worthiness of eV's.
I propose a $5000 spending cap on the eV instead of an energy budget provided that the neccessary safety precautions, 4 point harness and roll cage, are fitted. This means that teams have to compromise at some point on battery capacity vs weight and battery capacity vs cost. Having a larger battery capacity for the hour will result in higher speed and the spending cap will challenge us DIY engineers more because brakes etc are needed so it'd be pointless just making them go fast.

Regards,
James

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 22 Mar 2012, 16:47
by Crash
Thanks for the link to the latest FIA regs for electric car regs. With international regs to work to it will make organising events and getting insurance a lot easier, but we need a group of people interested in getting the competition started. I don't see any existing karting clubs running classes for electric karts, but would be good to see if anyone else has seen them run in Australia.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 22 Mar 2012, 17:13
by Crash
Yes, Am part of the River Raiders team that has competed in the EV Challenge for the last few years. Part of the motivation for having this discussion was that the EV Challenge organisers see there event more as an efficiency trial and do not seem to want to grow the event to include "racing" or higher speeds. I can understand where they are coming from catering to school and college teams. There are several teams that are looking to be able to get more serious and go faster, but there does not seem to be a forum in Australia for this.
I have checked out the links posted by Catavolt above (a couple are for motorbikes, good to see there is now a nation electric motorbike championship up and running) but the WA EV Challenge and the Hunter Valley Festival EV prize seem like the only EV events in Australia.

I think the spending cap is a bit of difficult one to enforce and personally think a weight limit on batteries which would effectively cap what you need to spend on a battery pack and what size motor it could power would be just as effective.

I think we still have some work to do to get to the limits of the EV Challenge formula. A 432Wh battery pack should allow you to run at a steady 400W for an hour. Take out some pit stops and you probably want to be able to be able to average 450W.
Using aerodynamic drag formula power=1/2 V^3 x air density x Cd x A
and Cd (drag coeff) = 0.15, A = 0.25m^2 and air density 1.2 kg/m^2
then V = 27m/s or 98km/h
This doesn't allow for rolling resistance, drive train losses and braking and acceleration, so obviously won't get this fast, but it does demonstrate that the potential is there.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 22 Mar 2012, 17:50
by Coulomb Racing
Yeah that is very true, I have spoken to Patrick Louden about expanding the eV Challenge but it is as you say above.
A spending cap could be reinforced, it would just require closer scrutineering and abit more documentation. A battery weight is a good idea however.
I used the following equation:
432 = 0.5 ρ Cd A V³ + V Crr g m and came up with a figure of ~45 kph without any drive-train in-efficiencies.
If we could get together a group of 5 - 10 teams willing to go to a higher formula of eV racing, where max battery weight is 20 or 30 kg, then I think we could quite quickly attract spectator interest and hence grow the event from there.
     

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Fri, 23 Mar 2012, 21:25
by Faz
Expanding the EV challenge to include a high performance division would be great.
I've always viewed the EV challenge to be more aimed at high school students. That and the restrictions on speed and small battery packs are why I've never entered.
If there was a category that allowed 20kg or more of batteries I would definitely enter.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 28 Mar 2012, 07:12
by Crash
US Electrathons are running about 70lbs (30kg) of lead batteries and top competitors are doing just over 60 miles (96km) in a 1 hour event.
Looks like they often use oval tracks and don't have driver changes which would mean pit stops and corners would not be affecting average speeds like the EV Challenge.

Would 30kg of lead batteries would be giving about double the energy of the 432 Wh that is allowed in the EV challenge?

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 28 Mar 2012, 19:21
by Coulomb Racing
Hi Crash,

Energy Density of Lead Acid Batteries is around 30 Wh/kg maximum whereas Lithium Ion has an energy density of 125 Wh/kg.
Back to answering your question:
30 kg * 30 Wh = 900 Wh, therefore you more than twice the energy storage.
This would give us up to 130 kph if designed well, also making aerodynamics much more important and the maybe force a move onto scooter/ car tyres.

Regards,

James

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Wed, 28 Mar 2012, 19:24
by Coulomb Racing
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesand ... tw607.html
Good Graph on instantaneous power vs weight and cont. power vs weight

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 12 Apr 2012, 18:55
by Clay
Been a while since I've been on the forum and from the looks of it I've missed a very interesting conversation. I've been involved with the eV Challenge since the beginning and have also started a few threads on trying to get a faster, more organised ev racing event up and running. However with few if any takers to any suggestions and getting the run around from a number of people over the years nothing further has eventuated. I like several of the ideas put forwards on the thread so far so here are my thoughts...

1. Any faster electric racing series must be safe. The safety standards of the vehicles must be equal to those used in similar series featuring ICE. That way any increase in speeds as vehicles and drivetrains develop can be looked upon as a good thing as the cars will be fundamentally safe.

2. A core of between 6-10 entrants need to be committed to making the series work. The first eV Challenge had 14 entrants and it worked. Anything new needs at least half a dozen to get interest flowing. This core group would also need to form a body to oversee the competition.

3. Using common batteries, motors and possible controllers is a good start. The eV Challenge allows anything and is only limited by battery capacity thus you get huge variation in drivetrains used and often the winners are those who luck upon a very good motor/battery combination, not the design and construction of the chassis nor driving ability. The river raiders and revheads team from melbourne are the only teams to have done extensive research and pushed the boundaries of the allowed rules on the battery side as well as having built decent chassis' - and it shows. To get everyone roughly operating at the same speed, make everyone use the same drive components - similar to formula ford, any of the karting classes, v8 supercars, NASCAR, etc...

4. Make the racing fun. Something like the old endurance karting would be ideal, or else electrathon 1 hour racing, or something that gets potential racers enthusiastic. Efficiency trials are not going to interest most motorsport enthusiasts, racing will.


With these four key ingredients I think we in WA at least can get something up and running. As I see it we have two possible options - run the US eletrathon rules with standard batteries and motors OR run karts to something like 20-30 minute races.

I spoke last year to the WASCC who own and run Barbagallo raceway, and they were more more than willing to allow electric vehicle racing like the eV Challenge to use the track for free - on the proviso that the cars were safe. Unfortunately the current eV Challenge rules do not meet their basic requirements for roll over protection, seatbelts, bodywork or helmet specification.

Electrathon does however, and the rules are sufficiently close to the current eV Challenge rules that it would require minimal modifications to some eV Challenge vehicles for them to run under the Electrathon rules. have a look at www.electrathonamerica.org and download the rule book - it's pretty extensive and they have been racing electrathon vehicles for over 20 years there.

In terms of speeds the record held for electrathon vehicles in hour hour's racing is a distance of 62 miles - that's 99km/h average speed. Yes, it was set on an oval but even so that's pretty quick, as quick as my 100cc two stroke sprint kart managed when I used to race ten years ago.

IMHO the rules for Electrathon are already written, they are safe, they are similar enough to the eV Challenge that cars could easily and quickly be modified to run under their rules, so they make for the logical choice to move forward if we are serious about faster ev racing. all we would need to do is determine if 'control' motors and batteries are to be used, and if so which units, and we can get moving.

Sorry for the long email but having spent 12 years playing with eV Challenge vehicles and wishing for something a bit faster I for one love the idea of faster electric vehicle roaring around a racetrack.

Silently of course...

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 12 Apr 2012, 20:09
by Faz
Clay wrote:
Efficiency trials are not going to interest most motorsport enthusiasts, racing will.

I Agree 100%. Showing electric cars as "fast" would do wonders for public opinion. Low speed efficiency trials reinforce the "electric vehicles are slow" opinion.

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Thu, 12 Apr 2012, 22:42
by Coulomb Racing
@ Clay: Could you please PM me your contact details/phone number?
I have been working on something which I believe you may be very interested in. Confidential though so I would prefer to talk over the phone rather than the internet.

Regards,

James

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Fri, 13 Apr 2012, 05:19
by Crash
Well it looks like we would be up to at least 4 or 5 entrants for a higher speed electrathon style event that does not try and restrict it to efficiency trials and provides some racing. That said, last years WA electrathon had some great 'racing' even though it was officially racing with the event decided on the last lap and the official commentator certainly got excited about it.

There seems to be interest in a few different types of events and to be honest, that is one of the biggest attractions of a WA Sporting Car Club track day. They have races for open wheelers, sports cars, sedans and whatever the current one make series at their track days. So the question is how do we get the ball rolling for EV's? It would be great to have a 1 hour electrathon, a couple of 15 min kart races, an open wheeler race and some modified road cars on the circuit for a race a couple of times a year. It would be entertaining not just because of any racing, but also to see what tech is available, haow different motors and batteries are performing and it would push people to try and improve the performance of their electric cars. There are already FIA rules out there for the cars and competition as Wellsey has pointed out, the main thing lacking is an organised competition.
It would be very handy to be affiliated with CAMS for insurances and recognition of events, but I don't see any of the existing car clubs making any big moves to get into EV racing in the near future, so to get some events organised, we are going to need to get a club that can organise the events. If there is any interest in the AEVA in becoming CAMS affiliated and organising some events then this would be great, otherwise we need to think about creating an organisation with the purpose of organising events for EV's.

Another issue I am currently grappling with is that now we have a great event being developed in Newcastle with the Hunter Valley EV Festival is that our new car developed for the WA EV Challenge will need extensive modification if we are to make the trip east to compete. It would be great to see some convergence on Australian National rules for electrathons.

On the safety of the WA event, I am very happy that the rules are good for the current cars and speeds that are being achieved. WIth speeds typically under 40km/h you are safer in an EV car than on a push bike which is much less stable and has a greater height to fall from. You are barely going faster than a sprinter and you have a helmet and frame around you, you don't need a roll bar, seat belts etc at these speeds. The biggest safety issue I have seen in past events was hitting a bystander and this was addressed last year with greater control of access to the track. I agree that the safety equation changes when you up the speeds and the US electrathon speed record of around 100km/h is a good benchmark.

Both Karting and electrathons would be great as an entry level form of EV's. The focus of karting is more on racing a controlled category of grass root racer, where as the electrathon is less about the driver and more about building a car. It would be good to see some though given to establishing a karting formula which is not just a straight transplant of sprintkarts or superkarts with an electric motor swapped for the ICE. There is a great opportunity to access the components available in the kart industry to develop electric karts quickly and cheaply, but to also provide an opportunity for evolving kart technology.

Control motors / batteries and or controllers are all good options to make racing closer and to simplify choices in developing a vehicle and I would see these as great additions to any competition, possibly as entry classes rather than the overall basis of a competition category until we have say enough interest in racing nissan leafs. It also forms a great basis on which to leverage some sponsorship and we already have this in the WA EV Challenge in the Yuassa class. It would also make sense in karting to have a couple of control events but there are many including myself that are lured by the technological challenge and relish the opportunity for some freedom in developing a car while at the same time having some rules to ensure that a big chequebook is the main factor.

Coulomb, if you want to share any ideas I would also be interested ganhaar@me.com / 0419917165

Wayne

Australian Grass Root EV Racing

Posted: Fri, 13 Apr 2012, 05:44
by Clay
While I disagree with you in regard to eV Challenge safety being adequate (HPVs require more safety than the eV Challenge and being school kids mostly would you want to stand in front of a judge when a kid gets injured - which is a high possibility in a vehicle vs vehicle crash - and say 'sorry mate, i didn't make my car safer because the rules didn't say i needed better helmets, seatbelts or roll bars'?) I agree that a new formula to go faster needs to be sorted.

If we have 4 or 5 guys/teams keen to go then the next thing to do would be to lock in a formula.

From my previous post I'm sure you can figure out that i am in favour of Electrathon racing and to begin with using control motors and batteries. As I mentioned existing eV Challenge vehicles could be converted and then new cars could also be built. A 'free' class for any motor and battery combination could then follow but to start with the competition could be set up with standard parts.

However I am but one potential competitor. What do the rest of you think?