After many hours of work on the car to get ready for racing, Friday finally came. It had been raining off and on all day with downpours in the afternoon. It was starting to look like the anti-EV vortex was back. I arrived at Wayland’s around 4:00 pm to find the shop full of cameras and crew interviewing Wayland. Between the weather and the distractions it wasn’t looking good for racing.
Marco Mongillo had arrived in his electric Fiat. We waited out in the rain for the cameras to stop rolling so we could load all the racing gear in the service truck. When the cameras stopped, we debated going to the track. With the occasional sun breaks and the dark clouds moving to the north though, we headed to the track.
We arrived at the track at around 6:00, the rain had completely stopped, but the sky looked like it could open up at anytime. John drove the service truck directly to our charging area to connect the giant power cable to the PIR transformer for charging while I drove the Zombie to tech inspection. After the inspector’s quick look at the car, I was off to the charging area. With a full charge, I pulled up to the water box for the first burnout since the brush timing change. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I was worried about arcing or loss of some torque from the 5 more degree advancement of the motor. I eased into the go pedal, the tires immediately spun up and turned into rolling balls of white smoke. I thought to myself “Wow, the car feels like it has more torque, the launch should be interesting”. I pulled up to the line next to a new bright yellow Corvette. Yellow, yellow, yellow,”I hope this thing goes straight when I hit this pedal” green, GO!
I stomped the pedal and the car launched perfectly, the front end came up just enough to get good weight distribution, but not far enough to loose any time or waste too much torque. The tires stuck to the track and catapulted the car in a perfectly straight line. I thought “oh, here comes the 1/8th mile mark, time for the motor to quit pulling so hard”, but it never stopped pulling. This was a whole new car, the batteries were still cold and the brushes were barely broken in. I saw the Corvette coming up in the mirror, but it was too late I had already crossed the finish line nearly a full second in front of him. I pulled up to the shack to grab my time slip, oh, 12.4 @ 101 not bad for the first run.
With another cycle on the mighty Enersys/Hawker batteries, I was ready for a second run against the Corvette (this time with his traction control on). A second effortless tire boiling burnout and up to the line again. I smashed the pedal, again a very controllable almost gentle launch (very gentle compared to how the car use to launch). The Corvette was getting smaller and smaller, it was another nearly perfect run, no tire spin, no aggressive sideways launch, no arching or vibration, just a smooth 100+ mph cruise down the track. I checked the time slip, 12.14 @ 107! Wayland and I had been a little concerned with the brush timing, but it seams to have dramatically increased performance at both the beginning and end of the track. I can’t wait to see what the next run will be!
Charged a third time and just starting to get warm, these batteries were laughing at the 500 amps we are pulling from each of them for the 12 seconds. I pull up to the line next to a pretty hot looking BMW M3. This might be the 11 second run. I hit the pedal expecting the now warm batteries to pull the front end up a little more, but the Zombie just kept it’s head down, stuck to the track and shot down the track with a quick time of 12.03 @??? (Wayland is more protective of the time slips than he is the car, I only get to look at them when I pick the up at the timing booth, then I never see them again.) Damn, this is going to be another one of those nights, the track is getting cold and the rain looks close, 12.03 is almost as close as you can get to the elevens without touching them.
We immediately got the car on charge to hopefully get in another run or two. After a quick charge, I lined back up with the BMW, this time with his traction control on (this seams to be a common excuse). This is it, the car will either break the 11s on explode. White Zombie launched hard, but still very controlled, no explosion yet, we passed 1/8 mile, still no failures! At this point the BMW was just a speck in the mirror, Now I can see the finish line, the car still feels great, I can’t hear any arcing, I can’t smell any burning, I’m still going straight, is this it? I flew through the finish line with an 11.94 (YES 11.94, finally). After being so close so many times, the elusive 11s are now ours! It’s amazing how many hours $$$$ and ideas it takes to shave off that .15 seconds! After a lot of celebrating in the pits Wayland was ready to leave the track (I know, I’m not sure where this voice came from, the Wayland I know doesn’t have a “voice of reason” um, we blow things up, so you don’t have to???) It took some convincing from some fans, but he agreed to let me have one more run.
Without a second thought I jumped in the car and hauled ass to the starting line before he could change his mind. I pulled up to the line and looked over the see a 64 Pontiac Tempest with huge drag tires in the rear, with a huge 455 under the hood. Oh great, I line up against the one car here that will smoke the little battery powered Datsun, oh well, it should be another 11. I hit the pedal (a little too early, red light -0.03 too early) I expect this roaring monster to fly by me at a million miles an hour, but to my surprise he stays just close enough behind me to rattle my teeth with his big block screaming to keep up. The Zombie flew through the traps at another impressive 11.96 at 110 something!
I have to thank Jim Husted for not detuning the motor while he had it back in his possession, so he wouldn’t have to worry about us blowing it up. Jim, I know how hard it is for you, to work so hard so we can try our hardest to break it ; )