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Post Info TOPIC: Should we be going faster or conserving more?


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Should we be going faster or conserving more?
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One of the current trends with Electrathons seems to be to want to expand the range of allowable batteries that we are using.  I am all for allowing a safe change to the battery line up.  What I personally am fearfull of is our cars going much faster.  Most of our cars are built by high school students, and some of the engineering reflects this.  Most of our races are in parking lots, which really limits the speed we can travel.  Give us more available amp hours, we will go faster.  I personally do not want to see this happen.  I think we are currently at a good "happy median" speed to get the proper amount of speed with a balance of forced conservation.

Aaron

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I agree 100%. At the 2009 Fall CNY Electrathon Challenge at Oswego Speedway, the winner was posting top lap speeds of 45 mph with the redtops, with battery to spare at the end of the race.

As event coordinator, I am pretty scared about what kinds of speeds we will be getting with the Yellow tops, even if it is only three more amp hours. (see the download below)

For a downloadable PDF of these curves see:
http://www.nyelectrathon.com/download.php?list.34
and click on the small blue arrow to download it.Optima Discharge curves.jpg
We are considering lengthening the race time to keep the speeds in check since NYElectrathon focuses on Safety and Education. We believe that you can learn the same engineering and physics principles at 30 mph, as you can at 50; without the increase in risk.

-- Edited by churd on Friday 6th of November 2009 02:11:11 AM

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I am pretty sure that the going faster thing is going to be the downfall of the organization. I find it sad that safety is going out in favor of speed. As we go faster we are going to have to enforce the safety rules very strictly. There is going to be a lot less learning, trading speed for efficiency. I think it is better that there is barely enough power to finish a race, not so much that we are running constantly at 40 plus mph. With the extra power there is less need to properly design and build the cars, you can just power through the tires scrubbing and go for it.


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Not only that, but with additional speed comes greater wear on the tires, and components on the car. I agree 100% on the safety aspect of it; things were fast enough. I really wish our team would of gotten the opportunity to vote.

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I think were looking at an 8% increase in C/1 ratings give or take a few tenths. That puts a fast team, previously at 45, now to 48-49. With proper inspections, driver training, etc... both safe speeds from what I've seen. Considering we've been to 45, the advantage of using deep cell batteries is well worth the risk of 3 more mph for our team. Yes it does wear on tires, brakes drive components. Find me a race event that doesn't?

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At least around here, we never run that fast. In the NW we run rally tracks. No boring, eat a sandwich during the race circles. We are darting between barriers, around corners, out a driveway and back. We run drivers races. The extra power allows the drivers to rip into the corners and cut past others. The skill level of the driver to run an efficient race goes out the window in favor of the skill of driving fast and aggressive. The need to conserve is so far diminished over 8 years ago. Back then it was not uncommon for half of the cars to not finish the race, now most do even though they may he horribly designed. I guess if the direction Electrathon is going is fast aggressive speed racing, that is what we will be dealing with. The historic, and still implied, idea of Electrathon was a green, conservation race. Just sad that we are turning away from conservation in favor of more power just as the attitude of the public is migrating to what we used to be.

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teacher

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I'm not trying to de-emphasize conservation, but isn't a driver's race emphasizing fast-aggressive speed racing? I have a great appreciation for driver skill as I race SCCA Solo myself. However, our team is a high school program, and I feel that changes things.

From a teachers standpoint, eliminating driver skill is far more of an advantage to my students who are studying electrathon. To be able to design, build, and then race a car that is competitive regardless of the driver skill seems to be far more educational. Doing fast circle tracks allows the students who did the research and design, the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test rather than leaving it up to the driver.

Personally I feel the open circles give the students a much safer venue to really open up and to NOT be aggressive. Every race we've run has had different student drivers, male and female, and to be able to open that up to them instead of trying to find a student who has previous racing skills is far more fun and exciting.

People often ask me what the purpose of putting a weight limit on the driver is, rather than having a weight limit on the car like most conventional racing. I tell them its to take the emphasis off of the team trying to find a light-weight driver, and put it on the design and implementation of the vehicle. Educational.

Doesn't the addition of corners, barriers, etc... put more emphasis on the driver, and not the conservation of energy?

-- Edited by bgilmore on Sunday 8th of November 2009 03:36:53 AM

-- Edited by bgilmore on Sunday 8th of November 2009 03:42:00 AM

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Bgillmore, awesome to see another SCCA member on here.

I came to electrathon because I liked the fact that it was SO DIFFERENT from any type of racing I had done before. Honestly, as weird as this sounds, to me, it is more challenging to race an electrathon car then it is to race the Miata or NSX I usually am driving. And it's solely because everything is at a lower speed, and it's more about driving at a smooth conservative pace, knowing you must preserve the electricity you have on hand. In 2008 I skipped two race weekends to race our electrathon car, and it was well worth it.

Our school's car is stored at my home shop behind my house. A few of my racing friends (Some professional driver's as well) came over and asked to drive it. They were blown away at the concept and absoluely loved it. In fact, I have one guy who has asked to drive an event or two and is thinking about building a car to race with us. (This driver has raced Speed World Challenge GT, SCCA Pro-Rally, and a handful of other professional series)

Long story short, i'd rather see electrathon shy away from adding more power. While it's the answer in most other forms of racing, I personally do not feel a need for that much more power. As a team "owner" who funds our team directly from my wallet, I see it now as I need to purchase a minimum of four new batteries per car, in addition to modifying our new car to make them fit. If they are even a hair larger then the red's, we will have to scrap one of our cars in it's entirety to make it work.

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Kyle, thanks for the response.

I agree with the fact that having to buy more batteries is really going to put a financial strain on almost all teams. Lucky for you and I we'll only need 4. The red tops are starter batteries and only last a couple seasons or so. Any large drain can have devastating affects on their life span. The yellows I believe get 500x more charges with a much greater ability to recover. This is the reason I'm excited for a switch. Not having to worry which of the batteries got below 11V last race, or which red top we ran an extra race last year.... knowing in the end they'll be worthless and we'll have to get new red tops... all over again.

The speed increase is just something that happened to come along with the switch to deep cycle yellows. I wouldn't have chosen one speed over another personally.

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Actually a drivers race teaches the kids that the speed is not the primary issue, proper design, proper construction and proper driving all add together to create a winning car. Circles are so much easier to design and build a car for. Minimal steering is needed, minimal drivers skill and minimal structural strength (by comparison to a rally car) is needed. Circles teach the kids thet top speed is what it is about, rallys teach so much more. I do agree with you that if you want to use minimally skilled drivers that it can be argued that lowering the learning curve can make things simpler. I just hesitate to agree that the curve needs to be lower. You can learn so much more when you are sitting on the side of the track wondering where your wheel went than you can coming across the finish line in the middle of the pack.

I have seen a number of accidents over the years watching Electrathons. I have seen a very small number of actual injuries. I can not recall ever seeing anyone hurt in a low speed cornering pile up. I can recall seeing an injury to a fast moving car. The fact remains that it is just harder to get hurt running into something when doing 10 mph than you can doing 30 mph. I understand that you can be hurt in either, but it is a lot easier to be hurt when moving fast than when moving medium. In my opinion, the safety tracks are wide winding tracks. It helps keep the speed down, the drivers learn more and everyone gets to have fun.

The level of research and design is so much higher on a rally car than on a circle car. Yes, it would be simpler to make a circle track car. It is a different level of learning. Both will learn, but there is so much more to learn on the design and construction of a rally car than a circle car. The cars are different. If we brought our cars across the country to a circle track race, you would easily win. Bring your car here and I doubt that you would even come close to finishing, let along winning. Different kind of design and construction.

I totally agree about the driver weight and not the car weight. Back in the days of the Electrathon Run they did not have a driver weight. It was common practice to put the littlest, youngest (read totally unskilled) driver in the car. It was a disaster. Cars were regularly ran into other cars. The only reason they did not have injuries was that the speed was down. I would estimate the accidents went down by 2/3 when we went to the driver weight rule and the more skilled drivers were put in the cars.

The corners are why it becomes necessary to conserve energy! There is little to be learned by drive and turn left. There is a lot to be learned by understanding gearing, speed and driving. It is a real life lesson of driving and conservation.

bgilmore wrote:


I'm not trying to de-emphasize conservation, but isn't a driver's race emphasizing fast-aggressive speed racing? I have a great appreciation for driver skill as I race SCCA Solo myself. However, our team is a high school program, and I feel that changes things.

From a teachers standpoint, eliminating driver skill is far more of an advantage to my students who are studying electrathon. To be able to design, build, and then race a car that is competitive regardless of the driver skill seems to be far more educational. Doing fast circle tracks allows the students who did the research and design, the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test rather than leaving it up to the driver.

Personally I feel the open circles give the students a much safer venue to really open up and to NOT be aggressive. Every race we've run has had different student drivers, male and female, and to be able to open that up to them instead of trying to find a student who has previous racing skills is far more fun and exciting.

People often ask me what the purpose of putting a weight limit on the driver is, rather than having a weight limit on the car like most conventional racing. I tell them its to take the emphasis off of the team trying to find a light-weight driver, and put it on the design and implementation of the vehicle. Educational.

Doesn't the addition of corners, barriers, etc... put more emphasis on the driver, and not the conservation of energy?

-- Edited by bgilmore on Sunday 8th of November 2009 03:36:53 AM

-- Edited by bgilmore on Sunday 8th of November 2009 03:42:00 AM






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Unfortunatly as a promoter we cannot mandate speed. We can however mandate track layout which may be usefull in the safety aspects.

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I run solo as well! I wonder how many electrathon advisors are solo guys (gals)?

I think the jury is still out on whether or not the yellows will really make us quicker. Also, speed isn't necessarily dangerous. Running 45 on a big oval is pretty darn safe. Running 30 mph in a parking lot with curbs is more risky. We should all be looking for bigger and better venues if safety is in question.

Adam Ansorge


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What about having a shorter race time for people who just want to go as fast as possible? Or you could say the first person to do 15 laps wins the speed class.

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One of the primary objectives of Electrathon is not to go fast. It is to go farther than anyone else on the track with a very limited amount of energy. Having extra energy so you can go ultra fast may be a sport, but if it is, there needs to be a differnat organization that polices and monitors it. What makes Electrathons so interesting is you have just a little bit not enough energy, you learn to use what you have efficiently, to stretch it out, think a little green and have fun at it.

Personally, I think the batteries were about the right size, maybe a little to big. Allowing bigger and more power is contrary to the spirit of the sport. Sort of like telling athletes to start taking steroids so they will be able to set bigger records. In the spirit of competition, I will use everything available to win, it is allowed so you do it. The problem here is in the rules.

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Pomodori Corsa wrote:

Or you could say the first person to do 15 laps wins the speed class.




The person in the lead at the 15 minute mark is often not going to be the winner. It is often a sign of a bad driver that does not know how to ballance conservation, driving skill and energy management. There are exceptions, the cars that are very well built and no one is going to catch them.



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I suppose we should keep it simple and not have a different heat for people who just want to go as fast as possible around the track. People would likely end up hitting each other and running off the track in a mad effort to get into the lead before the final lap.



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I just read through this thread and I noticed the dates. This was back in 2010!

Now I have to wonder... What are the opinions now? Are yellow-tops all the hype? Is speed the primary concern of the latest races? Or, are the laps made more difficult making the races more about the drivers?Has there been much of a difference in competition at all?

I am a newbie at electrathon, but any help is appreciated!



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I can only give my opinion.... but going faster isn't a great idea... yeah it is fun, but I thought that the idea was to make efficient vehicles.

I can only see two "upsides" to the new battery rule.

1: it is VERY hard to find a light enough battery to meet the old regulations (67 lbs) today... most "affordable" (none are cheap anymore)batteries weigh 35lb + each

AND

2: A pair of optima "yellow tops" will last 4-6 seasons (at least our seasons on the west coast) and a pair of "red tops" will only last 1 or 2 so in the long run you save money.

when I started "hanging around" electrathon in 2004 it was common for 1/2 the cars in a race to run out of power due to poor design or driving style...

now it is common for 90% of the cars in a race to finish the hour.. and most of the cars that "did not finish" were due to crashes, often caused by exxcess speed carried into a corner or "over braking" for corners or catching up to slower cars... both of which were more "rare occurances" when you were "saving battery" just to make the end of the race.

so in my opinion it is kind of a double edged sword... it has financial "plusses" and safety and learning/teaching/design"minuses"



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