Hialeah Park - December 18, 2005

Turkey Rush Autocross

finishing the run


It is the end of the season, both for hurricanes and racing. This autocross was originally scheduled for November but was postponed by a hurricane named Wilma. Wilma did some damage to the Electric Imp. A large tree branch dented the roof, cracked the windshield, creased the hood and then crunched a fender. It also gave the Electric Imp a chance to demonstrate it's versatility by acting as a mobile power source for our two weeks without electricity. Battered but not down, we need one more finish to clinch the championship.

I have been fairly blunt about the limitations of the Hialeah Park site. It's skinny and long shape dictates a course of slaloms down, 180 degree turn, slaloms back. This does not make for an exciting interesting course. It turns out, that I underestimated the creativity of the course designers.

Their best move was the liberal use of 'option' slaloms. An 'option' slalom is where the driver is required to complete the slalom, but is free to choose on which side to start the slalom. The challenge is deciding the quickest route. Here is a typical example. The car enters at the bottom of the drawing and exits at the top

Autocross track first option cones layout

If you take the yellow route, you do not need to slow the car to make the first cone but at the end of the slalom you must make a sharp left turn to stay on course.

If you take the blue line, you must turn hard to take the first cone but can ignore the last cone. The trick is determining which line will be faster.

I walk the course twice and review our walk-through video three times. I am sure that I have chosen the correct lines through the first and third 'option' slaloms but I am unsure about the second slalom. In the end I go with maximizing the exit speed for the longish straight beyond the slalom at the cost of being forced around the furthest cone.


Autocross track second option cones layout

Run 1

They call us to grid.
The DAQ computer is down again.
The video camera is working but looks through the cracked portion of the windshield.
There are two starters...
One says "Go!" and the other says "Wait!" and our run is off to a good start.

The first 'option' cone, I take to my left. This allows me to skip the last cone and exit at full throttle. A braking box is next but I have decided from the walk through that it is wide enough that I can keep full throttle through and then brake hard and straight to make the 180 degree turn. Out of the 180 there is a left - right kink and then the second 'option' slalom. I take it's first cone to my right but fail to get on the throttle quick enough on exit. The final 'option' slalom is just before the finish line. I turn to take a cone and recognize that it is on my right when I wanted it on my left. Oops. Then the motors shut off just before the finish. I coast (at speed) over the line.

54.950 + 'Off', though I can't find any evidence of being off track in the video.


View Run #1 Video (11.6 MB)

Run 2

I cycle the switches and the motors start right up.
We do not know why they shut down, and with the DAQ computer down we can not find out.
We put the car back in line for the second run.
While we wait, I review the video from the first run.


review the video

I make sure both 'Starters' are in agreement before I launch the car.
I am more confident on the throttle and carry more speed.
The rear of the car breaks loose a little around the 180 degree turn.
I shout "left, right, left" at myself to keep the 'option' cone choices clear.
I do not repeat my mistake on the last 'option' but the motors quit again just before the finish.

51.436 secs!

View Run #2 Video (13.4 MB)
Run 3
ready for run 3?

The organizers now have us do our four runs one right after the other. This means there is little time to review the data but allows the tires and brakes to operate at closer to optimum temperatures.

The third run is cleaner.
Earlier on the throttle.
More speed.
Again the motors quit between the last cone and the finish line.

49.625 secs!

View Run #3 Video (11.3 MB)
Run 4
accelerating out of the 180 degree turn

The final run is even better. And, as a special treat, the motors are still working as I cross the finish line.

47.798 secs!

View Run #4 Video (10.1 MB)

Sum up

Another win in D modified.

We have won every event entered and have swept the Championship.

This is the first time that an electric vehicle has taken a sanctioned Championship against ICE competition. <Can an EV beat an ICE?> In autocross, the answer is "Yes!"

A properly prepared battery powered car can beat a gas vehicle.



autocross championship trophy

Six autocrosses in 2005.

Six First place Trophies.

We have the championship.


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