Wayland Invitational – Version 5.2?

By now it’s fairly well known we had a good night on Friday. Perhaps more important than exceeding our goal of ‘cracking the 10s’ however, is the way all our friends, family, supporters, and sponsors were there to make it even more special. Indeed, Friday was more like version 5.2 of the ‘Wayland Invitational V’ than just another weekend’s Late Night Drags! We had Tom Saxton’s red Tesla there that he and fellow Tesla owner Dave ‘Rat Boy’ Denhart had traveled to Portland in (Dave’s yellow Tesla was still in the shop recovering from problems caused by a rat that had chewed through the battery pack wiring system). Plasma Boy team members Rich Rudman, Bruce ‘Doctor Sherry’ hauled Don ‘Father Time’ Crabtree down from northern Washington. The younger EVers that make up the Manzanita Micro group – Clarice, Travis, and Steve also came down. EV friend Damon Henry from Vancouver came with is electric Datsun pickup, Victor Tichonov came in his AC-powered CRX, and team member Marko Mongillo arrived in his electric Datsun pickup…so we had five EVs present. My heart was warmed when quite a few coworkers from NW Handling Systems showed up, too. Team member Bob Fagliano and his wife were there, and many more friends I won’t continue to list, but nonetheless appreciate were there, too. Yes, it was like a continuation of the Wayland Invitational V!

There was drama before I even left the house, when the car’s series-parallel contactor setup acted up to the point where ‘nothing’ was working and the car was un-drivable :-( Having told everyone we were headed back to the track on Friday, the pressure was on to get it fixed…which I did only after copious amounts of sweat and panic! The car drove beautifully on the way to PIR, but manually switching from series to parallel brought back the bucking and snorting symptoms again. Hmmm…at least we would would be able to keep the controller from ‘trying’ to go into parallel with the manual setup employed. We had also changed the gear set from the 4:11s to the taller 3:70 ratio, something I was convinced would improve both the hole shot and the top end, as the set had done back in ’07 with the super lighten Zombie and the borrowed A123 pack. With the Dow / Kokam cells sooooo stiff, the series mode seemed to pull like crazy anyway and it was doubtful that parallel was even needed…this was to be proven later. Plasma Girl and I arrived in the Zombie at PIR, Tim met up with us and teched-in, we did a recharge as Tim suited up, then we hit the track at 7:27 pm.

With the motors left in the series mode and with the controller quite happy about the situation, the car was now able to keep accelerating the full length of the track. We were all blown away with an eye-popping opening run of 11.111 @117.77 mph! What the heck?? Evidently, the stout lithium cells high voltage under load keeps the motor sections at full boil even in series mode – parallel no longer needed? An 11.1 was the quickest ET the Zombie had ever run – a full 3/10 quicker than the previous best of 11.4. Without recharging and with no changes to controller settings, just six minutes later at 7:33 pm we ran a quicker 11.069 @ 117.70 mph….so close to a 10, but yet not one!

Only 13 minutes after the 2nd pass at 7:46 pm – again with no changes to controller settings and without a recharge, we went back out for run #3. This one is where the real drama comes in, because we could all smell the 10s… but then it happened. On this ‘almost 10′ run with its 1.588 60 ft. time and a stunning 6.642 @ 103.09 1/8 mile, the car slowed in its thrust and even with an 11.170 ET, the trap speed was only 94.13 mph. We all knew ‘something’ had happened. When the Zombie didn’t return and the track rescue vehicle sped away down the track, our stomachs collectively sank as we were suddenly thinking about the 10s that got away! We would learn that it was a pretty exciting run for Tim when the 12V systems control wiring for the dash mounted ‘Forward-Reverse’ switch had shorted to the chassis and melted down filling the interior with smoke while shutting the car down…the Zombie coasted across the finish line and still ran a low 11! Steve ‘The Taunter’ Schrab, Mike Willmon and I piled into Mike’s truck and towed the Zombie back to the pit area where a one hour rewire of things took place, and it wasn’t limited to just the interior control wiring! I was able to reconfigure Hairball and contactor inputs to get the car running again, while the pack was freshened up…we were ready to run again! We adjusted the power from 1400 battery amps to 1800, and took the motor current up from 1500 amps to a full 2000 amps. Of note, 1800 amps is still 600 amps shy of what the Dow Kokams can put out!

The 4th run of the night came at 9:08 pm. With the juice cranked up more, I was hoping it would be enough to push us into the 10s, and thought it might be a 10.85-10.9. The launch had a strong 1.62 60 ft., and the 1/8 mile was a quick 6.522 @ 106.33 mph. As the Zombie sped away we all leaned in anticipation, then saw the reader board light up with ’121.09 mph’ as I’m thinking we got the 10.9 – then it switched to display ’10.424′!!! Screams and yells followed. We had done it! And we didn’t just touch the 10s – we blew deep into them!

Even though the Dow Kokam battery pack had shown that its voltage didn’t change much run after run, I decided to do a refresh charge anyway so that the backup run would be fed off the same pack voltage level as the 10.424 run…gotta have this run come in 1% of it. With the feeling that we were about to cement a low 10 second record for a street legal EV, and with an in-car camera and a hi def camera capturing the entire scene outside the car, The Taunter jumped into action to find the ultimate competitor to take on. He found it in a Skyline GTR that had been stoking the crowd – Japan’s super car, affectionately called Godzilla by the automotive press and road tested with 0-60 at 3.3 seconds. This rare and exotic 485 hp twin turboed monster had already run an 11.4 at speeds approaching 120 mph on this evening! Matt, the owner and driver was a very good sport and agreed to take on the Zombie, knowing we had just ripped off a 10.424 ET. With cameras rolling, Nissan’s Godzilla lined up against a 38 year old Nissan with a green Godzilla across its small white hood. At 9:47 pm history was repeated as the Zombie launched hard, immediately pulled away from the potent super car, and ripped off 10.400 on the nose with a slightly lower trap speed of 117.21! Out of interest, the Skyline was hot on the Zombie’s heels – its pressurized V6 wailing and pulling hard in a game of catch up it could have easily won had there been another 1/8 mile of asphalt to devour. The GTR flashed across the finish line with a Zombie-matching speed of 117.87 mph but trailing by nearly a second and a half with its 11.8 ET. What a race, what a thrill, and what an honor to go heads up against such an incredible machine!
Thanks to all my friends and sponsors for helping us make history!

See Ya…John ‘Plasma Boy’ Wayland

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