MOTORSPORT: BACK TO THE FUTURE FROM ITS ELECTRIC ROOTS

Credits CNN International

During the last few months electric motorsport has made several headlines: announcements of new series (among others several, and the number keeps rising: support series to the MotoGP, GT series, Global RallyCross Challenge); technical and commercial upgrades of present ones (see Formula E); new record seeking challenges in classic racing venues (see for example the VW prototype and the Pikes Peak hillclimb).

We have come to associate electric motorsport to something innovative and futuristic; in actuality it is thanks to electric power that performance has begun to be associated with the emerging newly born field of automotive at the end of the 1800s.

On December 18th 1898 the French Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat was the first protagonist of an officially recorded

land speed record with an electric car made by stagecoach-maker Jeantaud; top speed reached 63,15kmh. Over the next few months a head to head duel among the Count and a the Belgian Camille Jenatzy (nicknamed ‘Diable Rouge’ – Red Devil – for his beard) was unfolded. On April 29th 1899 the ‘Red Devil’ set the new official land speed record by riding an electric powered CITA 25 ‘Jamais Contente’ – Never Satisfied – for the first time over 100kmh, exactly 105,88kmh. Yet battery charges represented the limiting factor and this became the last successful attempt to improve the record with an electric engine. During the next few years new technologies replaced electric power as a source of speed: steam (beginning in 1902, last record marked in 1906) and then internal combustion (beginning in 1902 onwards) engines took over the record making competition, the automotive market and altogether the progressively increasing number of  motorsport events.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, new battery technologies have stimulated further research into electric power related to mobility and this has generated progressive investments into the field. Once again this has come to involve record seeking motorsport events to showcase the resurgent relevance of electric power (last year the NIO EP9 has conquered the overall best lap record at the legendary challenging Nurburgring track and has held the top spot for a couple of months).

Electric vehicles are becoming so relevant (due also to important stands taken by several governments) that nearly all of the key global automotive manufacturers are making substantial investments driven by the need to boost electric energy efficiency in mobility while leveraging upon the levels of performance that electric power can generate.

In a way we are going back to the relentless times of the ‘Red Devil’ and its ‘Never Satisfied’ electric powered land speed record car: we are living through an intense momentum of motorsport evolution and revolution from a technology, entertainment and also overall commercial point of view in which the ties of motorsport and mobility appear to be more relevant than ever.

To note that several Italian small to mid sized companies have unique know-how and experiences that are contributing in relevant ways to the development of relevant Electric Motorsport projects.

We will talk also about this during a conference that is going to be held in Rome on April 13th relevant to the overall  growth and development of companies that focus on any Motorsport format. At this link the introduction and flyer of the event illustrating its purposes and contents.

Posted in: Innovation

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