Kingston University's racing car

Alternative Energy Drag Race

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Due to the progress we have made with the TTXGP bike I decided to get involved with another zero emissions project.

Final Preparations to electric drag bike

Six weeks ago we took the decision to enter a motorbike into the Alternative Energy Drag Race 2009 (the aim is to record the quickest time over a ¼ mile sprint). This took place at Santa Pod - the European home of International drag racing. There are 2 classes, alternative fuels (such as Biodiesel, Ethanol, etc) and Zero Emissions (such as Electric, Hydrogen, pneumatic, etc). We initially thought of using the TTXGP bike but decided it would need too many changes to be competitive in this ¼ mile sprint. Our goal was to record a sub 15s time.

Electric drag bike race

Although the students doing the TTXGP project wanted to get involved in this I decided they already had enough to do with the TTXGP bike. Instead I approached my 1st year students to see if anyone would be interested. As luck would have it one of the 1st year students (Andy Irvine) had been drag racing since he was 9 and was really up for this. So I sat down with Andy 6 weeks ago and we designed a bespoke chassis and powertrain solution that would be suitable for the event. Andy then single handedly took on the task of making the whole bike from scratch in only 6 weeks - a phenomenal challenge. LifeBatt (current sponsors of the TTXGP bike) provided the sponsorship necessary for this project. Last week was very hectic as time was running out and the race was only 5 days away. Grant Fraser (another 1st year student) and Barry Wade (Auto Lab Technician) both offered some help and we managed to get the bike running in the Roe Vale car park by Thursday at 8pm. We packed it all up in the van Thursday evening and set off at 06:30 am Friday, heading for Santa Pod. We had some final setup issues to sort out Friday am before the racing started from 13:00 to 17:00.

Drag race from behind Andy Irvine with trophy

Our first run at 13:16 was a very respectable 18.6 seconds - outstanding really given we had only started building this bike 6 weeks ago. After various changes to the electronics, motors and batteries we had managed to reduce our time down to 15.021s, just outside our goal of sub 15s. One final adjustment and we were sitting on the start line for our last run of the day at 16:54. Expectations were high and we were confident we could achieve a sub 15s time. Andy was on the start line, we were all looking at the lights, the green light came on and Andy took off, we then focused on the timing board and all held our breath. He crossed the ¼ mile timing mark and up popped his time 14.998s - we had done it! Ideally we would have liked to walk away with the record or 14.417s , but I had called the gearing incorrectly and we could not change this at the track. However, we did win the fastest zero emission vehicle of the day.

Future plans for this bike include a sub 12s time for the ¼ mile and then an attempt on the land world speed record for an electric bike!!