Growing Event Sets New EV Speed Records on 2 & 4 Wheels
On July 1st, 2018, Speed Ventures hosted the 10th annual Refuel EV track event at WeatherTech Raceway (the former Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway) in Monterey, California. Refuel has become the premier track event showcasing electric car and motorcycle technology in a motorsport setting.
Speed Ventures, California’s leading recreational motorsports sanctioning body, envisioned Refuel 10 years ago as an opportunity to push the boundaries of EV performance. With electric vehicles becoming mainstream, these boundaries continue to expand, and this year’s event saw new track class records set for both automobiles and motorcycles. Refuel is open to racing professionals as well as EV enthusiasts and has been steadily growing each year.
At this year’s event, there were 84 vehicles entered–46 cars and 38 motorcycles. These included production vehicles, EV conversions and purpose-built prototype all-electric race cars.
Refuel is an excellent event for owners of EVs that may have never driven their vehicles on a race track. These drivers receive performance driving instruction from professional competitive drivers, experience the excitement of driving in a track environment and pushing the boundaries of their electric vehicles.
***Editor’s Note: Our thanks go out to Gary Lieber and CleanFleet Report for allowing us to share this important LEAF news update with our readers. Check out CleanFleet report here.
A highlight of the track event is participating in the Refuel Time Trial competition to see who is the fastest EV driver on WTRLS.
The Laguna Seca 2.23-mile track stresses production EVs in ways that are unique from street driving. Each lap can eat up as much as 25 miles of normal range or about 10 times the energy of used in ordinary highway driving. The track is not kind to brakes or tires on EVs. It is not unusual for a car to eat through a set of brake pads or tires when driving to the limit on the track. Production EV drivers have to watch their battery temperatures closely as high-performance driving can cause the batteries to overheat, which will reduce the power that they can provide.
This year’s Refuel Time Trial saw new records set with the fastest lap of 1:36.715 by Richard Hilleman and Rattlesnake electric sport driving in the prototype class with a 2016 SR3. This prototype race car used a repurposed season 2 Formula E electric motor and custom batteries and controllers built to withstand high racing heat loads. This new lap record smashed the 2017 record of 1:52 set by Billy Kwan in a production 2017 Chevy Bolt. The best time in a production BEV went to David
Lickfold’s Tesla Model S with a 1:47.621. Refuel 2018 was the first time Tesla Model 3’s participated with Cameron Rogers’s Model 3 taking 3rd overall with a 1:48.667.
In the motorcycle classes, new records were set in the modified and production classes. The overall fastest motorcycle was a Zero DSR ridden by Trevor Doniak with a lap time of 1:46.870 in the modified class, followed by Christopher Paz riding an Energica Ego with a lap time of 1:48.759. “I’m not a professional racer,” noted Paz, “and without question, in the right hands, this Ego could easily break this new record all over again. I can hardly wait until next year!”
The excitement in the paddock was just as intense as on the track this year. EV enthusiasts had the opportunity to rub elbows with not only professional racers but engineers from some of the most respected EV manufacturers who look to Refuel as an opportunity to test their electric vehicles designs and ideas. Refuel provided plenty of free charging stations for participants, and there were many groups of enthusiasts gathered around the stations swapping stories and getting advice.
If you are a west coast EV enthusiast, racer or just interested in experiencing the next generation of motorsports competition, Refuel is a can’t miss event.