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The event also found a suitable track: trapezoid shape, smooth bitumen (asphalt) surface, .6 km in length, with just enough grade to present a decent challenge.

The event also found a suitable track: trapezoid shape, smooth bitumen (asphalt) surface, .6 km in length, with just enough grade to present a decent challenge.

Above: This low sleek shape is typical of Electrathon bodies.

Today in Australia, a typical Electrathon event will have an Electrocycle race and an Electrokhana race as warmups to the featured Electrathon competition. (The Electrokhana involves cycles and vehicles similar to Electrathons negotiating a twisty course and stopping at designated times and places to pick up or put down a small cargo box—much like relay runners handing off a baton.)

Next Stop California

Australian Electrathon racing was well established when Clark Beasley and his bride moved to southern California in 1989. Clark immediately entered his Electrathon in the three-wheeled class of the local EV rally, and won his class. Of course, he was the only three-wheeled entry, which didn't hurt.

However, Clark didn't stop there. For the next couple of years he took his "Slingshot", and a second Electrathon he built, up and down the state doing display and demonstration events. He attracted attention and enthusiasm wherever he went.

By 1992, there were enough Electrathon builders and competitors to formalize the events into full-fledged Electrathon competitions in the mold of the Australian rules. Electrathon America was formed as a sanctioning body. The sport has proved so popular that there are now sanctioned events in twenty-eight states. The southern California chapter has just completed a deal to allow once a month races at the Encino Velodrome.

The goals of Electrathon racing are threefold: to foster research and development and designs at a grassroots, economical level; to provide a spectator event to promote electric vehicles to the public; and to have fun. They succeed on all levels.

Rolling Chassis

The vehicles seat a single person, and must have three or four wheels. These can be arranged in three configurations. Atricycle has one wheel in front and two in back. A cyclecar has two wheels in front and one in back. An autocar has four wheels at the corners. All wheels must all be load-bearing and in contact with the road at all times. Also, the vehicle must be independently stable at rest and in motion. In other words, you can't lose your balance and fall down.

There are very detailed braking requirements, reflecting the focus on safety. Regenerative braking is allowed in addition to conventional braking.

Tires must be inflatable, with a minimum diameter of sixteen inches. This differentiates Electrathons from gokarts, which use very small tires. Many Electrathons sit down between tires that are actually taller than the car's body.

The vehicle must have a fully enclosed body, with a roll bar capable of supporting car and driver in the event of a rollover. In addition, drivers are required to wear protective clothing, helmets, and three-point safety belts. No kneeling or head-first positions are allowed. These requirements are more examples of the focus on safety.

The car's body cannot be more than four feet wide or twelve feet long, and the tires must be at least two feet apart. There is no maximum height, but physics dictates that they will be as low to the ground as possible for best performance.

Drive System

Batteries are limited by type and weight. They must be deep cycle lead acid batteries, and the total pack weight must not exceed 64 lbs. In Australia, this limit is 25 kg, or 56 lbs. However, American batteries are larger and heavier, so a compensation is made. The batteries must be securely mounted to the chassis and enclosed, and cannot be charged, removed, or exchanged during the race.

Solar panels are permitted, but not generally used, since the body shapes and the demands of the event itself don't really lend themselves to solar power.

The electrical system must include fuses, circuit breakers, and emergency kill switches as further safety devices. Also, the traction electrical system must be completely isolated from the chassis. This is also true of full-size electric conversions, but not of conventional gas cars, which use the chassis as a ground.

Competitors can use only brush or series DC motors in the standard class, but they can use as many motors as they want. In the experimental class, any type electric motor is allowed.

The power is transmitted to the wheels by a drive chain or belt. The nuances of different vehicles and different courses will effect the gear ratio chosen, and some vehicles use multiple gears.

The entire vehicle can be built for $1,500-$2,000.

GoPower

Typical Electrathon Racer Specs

Car Type

Purpose Built, Open/Closed Wheel

Design Constraints

3-4 Wheels; Dimensions; Enclosed Body; Batteries Type & Weight

Weight

165 lbs.

Voltage

12-36 volts

Racing Speed

30-35 mph

Course Type

Oval or Road (Closed Course)

Course Length

1/4 km - 1 mile

Start Type

Standing

Duration

Enduro (1 hour)

Field Size

0 0

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