Here Comes Electric GT Racing
Just this past weekend in Mexico City, Formula E completed the fifth race in its second season, drawing increasing numbers of spectators curious about what all-electric, open-wheel, FIA Formula racing looks, smells, and sounds like. It still looks fast, smells of burning tire rubber, and sounds... well, a lot less noisy than the hornet's nest screams of the ICE-age racers they might be used to. You can watch past races on their Youtube channel,
If co-founders Mark Gemmel and Agustin Paya have their way, in 2017 there will be a second all-electric racing series, this one called Electric GT (Grand Touring). Unlike the custom-built open-wheel cars of Formula E, this series will feature production 'stock cars,' starting the first year with Tesla Model S P85s.
The organizers chose the P85s because of their 85kWh battery packs and rear-wheel drive, which is preferred for racing. Like Formula E's first season, all the teams will use the same Model S. While they will strip the cars of unnecessary weight, improve braking and cooling, and make aerodynamic changes to increase down force, they won't be permitted to make any changes to the drive system. The battery, controller and motor won't be modified. That will come in succeeding years.
While the stock version of the Model S P85 has a driving range of up to 250 miles on a charge, in racing conditions, that will drop sharply. Formula E solves the problem in its hour-long races by having the drivers pull into the pit and change cars to one with a freshly topped-off battery pack. The entire exchange takes less than 30 seconds. Managing the cars energy consumption is critical. How Electric GT handles this hasn't yet been announced, though organizers are hoping to attract ten teams and twenty cars, so a mid-race car swap might be what's in the works. Tesla briefly demonstrated a fast battery swap system, but that requires multiple exchange systems that might get used once or twice during the race and require costly moves from track to track.
Still in startup phase, Gemmel and Paya reportedly are in talks with various international racing venues with their interest said to be focused on Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, Donnington Park in England, and Nürburgring in Germany.
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