August '17

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46 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 stark contradiction to its claims of primacy—the home-grown National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) has been recognized by NHRA since 1999 as an "alternative sanction orga- nization," according to Raymond Cooper, NEDRA's director of PR & communications. NEDRA held three events in its first year and five in 2016, ranging from British Columbia to Maine to as far south as Oklahoma. Cooper expects more rapid growth in the near future. "Now folks are starting to realize that our members have been shocking crowds with blistering runs. Our race seasons are gaining momentum now that new members have joined and more school organizations are building electric drag race cars." He adds that spectator counts equal or exceed those at the same tracks on standard race days, and the club claims members from as far away as Denmark and Latvia. NEDRA's 16 classes will look pretty familiar to any IC drag race fan. There are street production and Extreme Street door-slammers as well as Funny Cars and dragsters, plus various motorcycle classes and even high school (HS) and university (ED) slots. Classes are subdivided into 14 voltage divisions, ranging from the 24-volt Division J to the 600-volt Division A5. (So, for example, a dragster running on maximum voltage would be classed DR/A5.) Drag strip legend Don Garlits himself has helmed an electric dragster to 185 mph; while NEDRA President John Metric's twin- motor Panic in Detroit has been clocked at 186 mph in the low 7s. "We'll be well into 200-mph soon," Cooper assures. Electric biker Larry McBride has already reached 201 mph. As with IC racers, technical sophistication varies with budget and ambition. Low-dollar rides may rely on used fork-lift or golf-cart motors. At the high end they're running brushless DC. It's somewhat surprising to learn that "very few" use lead-acid batteries, although just about every other commercially available battery chemistry is represented. Like racers everywhere, "our members experiment, explore, push the envelope and raise the bar," Cooper continues, "showing that we are a true test bed for electric vehicle technology." (One technology you won't find on any NEDRA racer—for now at least—is a fuel cell, which in their present state can't produce the low-end torque of any battery system.) Regardless of powertrain, however, a drag race chassis is still a drag race chassis, and Cooper estimates that 90 percent of the parts in SHOCK THERAPY TECHNOLOGY & ELECTRONICS Lower Manhattan will form a dramatic backdrop to the inau- gural New York City ePrix, which the FIA Formula E Championship confirmed will take place in Red Hook, Brooklyn in July. (Photo courtesy Formula E) 46 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 viewers, or more significantly, the auto racing audience of the future. "Everybody who's made a negative comment about it hasn't watched it," adds Bream, "and everybody who watches it will tell you that it's the most exciting race series on the planet." Electric vehicle racing may be spreading to other international sanctions as well. Red Bull Global Rallycross recently announced an EV class. And both IMSA and Formula Drift have publicly signaled their willingness to consider electric competitors. In stark contrast to Formula E's megadollar milieu—and in

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