AFV Racing Events

 AFV Racing Events 

Bonneville Salt Flat Alternative Fuel Racing Events in 2007

by Brent Singleton, Kent Singleton and Stan Hanel

The Bonneville Salt Flats land speed raceway in Wendover, Utah is a unique national treasure.  It was originally formed on 159 square miles of residual potash salt deposits left behind by the evaporation of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville.  In 1912, this special surface was tested for automotive land speed racing because the salt lakebed area was so flat over such a vast expanse that a racer could see the curvature of the earth.  Also, the cooling effect and traction of the moist salt on automobile tires allowed for faster speeds to be achieved than on traditional paved road surfaces over longer distances.  In the 1920s and 1930s, Ab Jenkins broke all previous worldwide automotive land speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats while driving the “Mormon Meteor”.  His record-setting feats attracted the attention of other international racers of his era.  Since then, Bonneville has become one of the world’s most famous international raceways where everyone is welcome to compete on the same playa.  Backyard builders have always raced alongside some of the finest automotive engineers in the world.

In 2006, a biographical movie titled “The World’s Fastest Indian”, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins,  told the story of H. J. “Burt” Munro and his record-setting 1924 Indian Scout motorcycle at Bonneville Salt Flats.  This motorcycle mechanic and racing enthusiast traveled all the way from Invercargill, New Zealand, to Wendover, Utah during the 1960s on a shoestring budget, receiving timely help from a lot of unexpected friends he met along the way.  After his arrival, he fulfilled his quest to establish a land speed record exceeding 200 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats during an international Speed Week competition.  His 40-year-old record still stands today:

Wally Parks, a founder, guiding light, and “Father” of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was also a leading advocate for land speed racing at Bonneville Salt Flats until he recently passed away in September 2007 at age 94.

Several organizations hope to continue fostering this pioneering spirit and record-setting legacy “on the salt”, including:

---The Southern California Timing Association- Bonneville Nationals, Inc. (SCTA-BNI).  This organization has hosted the international Speed Week and World Finals competitions annually for over 50 years at:

---The Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA), another active organization of international land speed racers at Bonneville Salt Flats:

---The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the world’s oldest international land speed racing sanctioning organization, celebrating its centenary in 2004, at:

---LandRacing.Com and BonnevilleRacing.Com, two online racing communities that provide support to their members and promote the Bonneville Salt Flats land speed raceway at:

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In the picture shown above, SCTA President Jim Lattin (left) greets USFRA President Jim Burkdoll during the SCTA-BNI “World Finals” event staged in October 2007.

Brent and Kent Singleton are members of the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA) and the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA-BNI) at Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah.  The “father and son” team are also the Bonneville Salt Flats Alternative Fuel Event Coordinators at:

Their personal website is:

where they invite the world to test and tune alternative fuel vehicles, including human-powered platforms. They hope to collaborate with different organizations to create new events at the world’s most famous land speed raceway that will encourage the growth of alternative fuel racing and performance enhancement, in the same way that petroleum-powered vehicles have been improved and performance-tested on the Salt Flats for the petroleum industry.  

This link on the USFRA web site shows the Electric Racing rule requirements for participation in a recent World of Speed Alternative Fuels Event at Bonneville Salt Flats:

Brent and Kent emphasized that these rules are a preliminary first effort to outline new alternative fuels racing events at Bonneville Salt Flats.  These racing rules will be upgraded for World of Speed 2008 as more alternative fuel vehicles become involved and new racing classes are formed.

The land speed racing communities’ interests include conservation to preserve the Bonneville Salt Flats for future generations by making this land speed raceway the premier place in the world to test and tune all types of vehicles.  The racing organizations that use this land actively work with local mining interests and government agencies to help in this conservation effort through fundraising as well as donated materials and research expertise.

The original 159 square miles of the evaporated salt bed has now shrunk to about 26 square miles due to decades of salt mining that pumped out the liquid brine beneath the salt bed for salt processing and harvestin.  Only recently has the federal Bureau of Land Management and local government started working with the local mining industry to reprocess this brine solution and reapply it back to the salt bed surface to try to conserve and expand the quality of the salt for future generations. 

Even today, many racers feel that the past mining efforts under the salt bed have caused erosion in the quality of the salt over the years.  The racing organizations have been able to work with the Bureau of Land Management to give historical data and perspective on these changes.

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Brent and Kent have a long history of involvement with alternative fuel racing at Bonneville Salt Flats.  When Brent was in Junior High School, the team acquired an award-winning Ford Escort hybrid gasoline/electric vehicle that was designed and developed by Weber State University in Utah.  During the 1990s, faculty and students at WSU worked together under a Ford Motor Corporation grant to win a national competition with other universities who all sought to create a cost-effective gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle on the Ford Escort platform.  WSU’s design used an electric motor with a chain drive linked directly to the transmission gear box.  This configuration could drive the transmission and power train in three ways:

  1. Directly from either the electric motor powered by a rechargeable 96-volt battery pack
  2. Directly from the stock gasoline engine
  3. Combining the electric motor and gasoline engine so that they worked together

After acquiring the vehicle during an auction, the team continued to work with Weber State University professors who were advisors on the original student project.  With Weber State University faculty help, they  added solar and wind power charging capabilities to the 96-volt battery system.  Their “quadbrid” alternative fuel vehicle became the first gasoline/electric hybrid raced on the Bonneville Salt Flats, recognized by Car and Driver magazine in February 2005.  The Ford Escort also serves as the tow vehicle for their Electric JAWS, Jr. racing sled.

For these and other environmental transportation efforts, Brent was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and presented with a Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) in 2006 as well as a corporate-level Clean Air Excellence Award (CAEA).  After graduation from high school, Brent accepted a position as a representative of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition at:

The Utah Clean Cities Coalition collaborates with similar organizations in other states to propose infrastructures that support a “greener” way of living for people in urban environments

The 2007 racing season at Bonneville Salt Flats established several historic record-setting highlights for eco-friendly electric vehicle racing enthusiasts.

Speed Week 2007 Highlights—Fuel Cell EVs Set Records Over 200 mph!

The premier annual event on the Bonneville Salt Flats is “Speed Week”, organized this year from August 13th -17th, 2007.  Speed Week is an international gathering of land speed record holders hosted by the Southern California Timing Association- Bonneville Nationals, Inc. (SCTA/BNI) at:

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The Ohio State University is an active participant in Bonneville Salt Flats racing, where its student engineering projects have set new Electric Vehicle international land speed records.  In 2004, an undergraduate student engineering team raced the “Buckeye Bullet” streamliner to a new national land speed record of 315 miles per hour, becoming the first electric vehicle to officially exceed the 300 mph benchmark.  The Buckeye Bullet employed a 900-volt rechargeable battery system to drive a 400-horsepower electric traction motor.  This new record exceeded the team’s record from the previous year of 257 miles per hour.  The 315 mph mark was set by averaging two sequential time trials over a 5-mile track with only a short recharge time in between runs:

The Buckeye Bullet was driven by Roger Schroer, who is a manager of driver training at TRC, Inc., one of the world’s largest independent automotive testing facilities located in Marysville, Ohio:

During August 2007, the team introduced its new “Buckeye Bullet 2” streamliner during the International Speed Week competitions at Bonneville:

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The Buckeye Bullet 2 (BB2) is a completely new design with more length and aerodynamic properties to accommodate a fuel cell system that now drives its powerful electric traction motor in place of the 900-volt battery pack used in the original Buckeye Bullet.  The goal of this multi-year project is to exceed the 315 mph record of the Buckeye Bullet 1 and to insure the safety of the fuel cell propulsion system. 

''While fuel-cell vehicles have been in production for some time, they were never imagined to reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour,'' said OSU adviser Giorgio Rizzoni.

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On its second and final run of Speed Week 2007, the BB2 reached 201 mph with its electric motor running at 9,500 rpm in second gear.  Roger Schroer was once again the driver (pictured above in helmet mask preparing to enter the cockpit).  A cockpit video of his 201-mph run is available at:

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The Ohio State University Engineering race team has also been involved with fuel cell research efforts involving Ford Motor Company, Roush Racing and Ballard Power Systems.  During Speed Week 2007, an experimental Ford Fusion 999, equipped with a fuel cell driven by two tanks of compressed hydrogen and helium-oxygen (heliox), showed that membrane fuel cell technology could drive a 770-horsepower AC electric motor to average 207 mph on the Bonneville test track over two 5-mile runs.  The fuel cell was provided by Ballard Power Systems at:

The Ohio State University’s engineering department provided design experience from the Buckeye Bullet 1 and land speed racing knowledge to advise the Ford research engineers.  Roush Racing provided vehicle fabrication and racing design expertise for the Ford Fusion platform.

A fuel cell can be twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine by converting fuel directly into electrical energy without combustion and is a clean power source that emits water (H20) at the its exhaust drip pipe instead of CO2.  However, because of this chemical reaction, there are also many problems to overcome before a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle can be put into mass production for the average U.S. consumer to purchase and drive reliably. 

--Historically, fuel cells have not worked well below the freezing temperature of water.

--Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology currently uses a stack of membrane “sandwiches”, where each cell “sandwich” is rated at only 1.0 to 2.0 volts.  To achieve the high voltage and current necessary to drive an electric vehicle can require a stack of 100 or more cells.

--As part of the chemistry mix that converts hydrogen and oxygen gases through each PEM cell into electricity and H20, each membrane “sandwich” employs an internal coating of either platinum or palladium at the anode of the cell to act as a catalyst for the conversion process.  At this stage, the catalyst causes the hydrogen atoms to split into positive hydrogen ions (protons) and negatively charged electrons.  Platinum and palladium are rare, expensive materials and the world supply of these materials is limited.  This lack of supply may not allow for easy scaling to mass production for EV fuel cell systems until a cheaper, more readily available catalyst is found. 

--The current U.S. gasoline station distribution infrastructure may not be easily converted into hydrogen distribution stations.  A hydrogen dispensing station is more expensive to build and maintain.  The storage tank in a fuel cell EV must also be more durable than traditional gas tanks in today’s gasoline vehicles and will be more costly to produce.  For example, the hydrogen gas tank used in the Fusion 999 is constructed of aluminum and carbon fiber.  It must be extremely durable in order to compress the hydrogen to 5,000 PSI to contain the maximum volume of the gas in a small vehicle space.  A second helium-oxygen (heliox) gas tank in the Ford Fusion 999 is compressed to 2400 PSI and is employed in place of an air compressor to provide 40 times the normal oxygen that would be available from compressed ambient air.  The tanks’ outputs are regulated so that equal gas pressure is applied to the two inputs of the membrane fuel cell stack.  Both tanks occupy the full trunk space of the Fusion 999 sedan and the rest of the propulsion system displaces the back seat, passenger seat, engine compartment and vehicle undercarriage, leaving only room for the driver and roll cage.

This 10-minute “YouTube” video by Autoblog Green profiles the design of the Ford Fusion 999 and interviews three of Ford’s design engineers about the project at:

A more promising fuel cell project at Ford for a mass production electric vehicle is a modified “Edge” SUV that has been converted to a Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) battery/fuel cell electric vehicle.  A prototype is on the road in Austin, Texas.  The following video shows a test drive and overview by one of its designers filmed by CarData Video, featuring the hybrid combination of a smaller hydrogen-powered fuel cell and rechargeable battery pack that drives the vehicle’s electric motor system at:

No gasoline is used at all in the hybrid “Edge”.  The first 25 miles can be driven using battery-powered electric only until the battery pack’s power capacity is diminished (nominal total battery range 32 miles), then the Hydrogen Fuel Cell comes on to recharge the batteries and extend the range.  The vehicle can be plugged in at night to recharge the batteries directly from a 110-volt outlet at a person’s home.

Like GM’s “E-Flex” power train and chassis design for the Chevy “Volt” PHEV, Ford is also trying to design its PHEVs with the capability to employ hybrid technology from alternative fuel sources such as biodiesel or gasoline.  Ford has recently announced and heavily advertised a commercial gasoline/electric hybrid version of the Mercury Mariner SUV this year.

Editor’s Note: 

The authors would like to thank David Cooke of the Buckeye Bullet 2 team and Joan Slattery Wall at The Ohio State University College of Engineering for their help in fact-checking this article for OSU’s engineering department.  For more information on The Ohio State University’s Engineering Department, contact:

The Ohio State University College of Engineering
2070 Neil Ave., 025 Hitchcock Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1278
Phone: (614) 292-4064    Fax: (614) 292-1955

Visit News in Engineering at
Visit Mortar Board at

World of Speed 2007 Highlights

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During the recent World of Speed event hosted by the USFRA in September 2007, Brent Singleton competed with Electric JAWS Jr., a battery-powered drag race sled that he and Kent developed while Brent was in junior-high school.  In the picture shown above, Kent is walking behind the vehicle while Brent is in the driver’s seat at the starting line, anticipating his next timed run.  Brent attempted to break the 132.353 mph record for the “less than 1,099 pound (500 kg)” electric vehicle racing category over a 1-mile track. 

He had become an experienced driver while honing his skills during exhibition drag races against petroleum and methanol-powered NHRA Junior Dragster racing sleds on NHRA-sanctioned 1/8th-mile drag race tracks.  Electric JAWS Jr. has now been upgraded to “run on the salt” and is equipped with better gearing and power train technology to chase new land speed records in its racing class.

A recent newspaper article profiling Electric JAWS, Jr. as an experimental land speed racer along with a history of Brent’s efforts can be found in the Deseret Morning News at:,5143,695206731,00.html

Electric JAWS Jr. Specifications:

  1. 6.7-inch Advanced DC Series Electric Motor (Part #K91-4003), 8 hp continuous at 48 – 96 VDC, 35 hp peak, reversible, single shaft, base mount, can drive EVs up to 1500 lbs.  Weight is 60 lbs.  Nominal cost $690 (U.S.)
  2. Motor Controller—Café Electric Zilla Motor Control System with Hairball Programmable Interface (Part #Z1K-LV),  72 – 156 VDC, 1000 Amps Maximum, IGBT technology, 15.7 kHz pulse-width modulated, safety features built-in.  Weight is 23 lbs.  Nominal Cost is $1975.

C.  Zivan Onboard Battery Pack Charger (Part #NG-3) supports specified battery packs from 132 – 300 VDC at 2800 Watts.  SB-50 Connector included for 120 or 240 VAC input.  Weight 15 lbs.  Nominal Cost is $965.

D.  Battery Pack-- SPS15 Hawker batteries (12 each at 12 volts) = 144 volt battery pack

E.  25" Goodyear rear tires that were loaned by Gary Allen, previous president of Utah Salt  Flats Racing Assoc. USFRA and known to exceed 250 mph at Bonneville.

F. Power train gear ratio 2.4 to 1

During World of Speed, Brent made three runs over a two-day period to chase his goal of 136 mph. The first run was encouraging, reaching 118 mph according to the team’s onboard GPS during the fastest point of the timed trial. 

“Electric JAWS Jr. ran so strong on the qualifying run that we were confident of our 136 mph goal the very next run,” said Kent.  “We recharged the battery pack quickly from our Zivan 220 VAC charger but Brent said it felt like the batteries didn't get a full charge between races.  We took our time and ‘top-charged’ the battery pack three times over that night to be sure to have a full charge on all of the five-year old batteries.  However, our remaining two runs never exceeded 118 mph again.  The motor is capable of 7000 rpm.  The electric motor smoked during the third run, but it still ran 110.89753 mph.” 

Qualifying/Calibration Run:

Segment  Time  Speed

2/10 mile                   1.12021                     80.34208

1/2 mile                     0.86677                    103.83377

1 mile                        0.62949                    108.50040

Electrathon America Races for First Time on Bonneville Salt Flats

World of Speed’s Alternative Fuels racing program also initiated an Electrathon America EV racing competition on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Electrathon America was formed as a racing organization during the 1990s to promote the construction of low-cost electric vehicles, particularly among students and hobbyists:

A 44-page handbook of construction rules and regulations is available as a free download in “.pdf” file format from this site:

Many of the specifications in the handbook outline standard safety requirements for design and construction of the Electrathon vehicles, emphasizing the necessary protection needed for racers during extreme cases of vehicle rollover while traveling at speeds in excess of 50 mph.  These requirements include details of rollbar, brakes, padding and cockpit design that include the relative location of the driver’s helmet within the racing platform.  These requirements and guidelines were very helpful during the rigorous technical inspection performed by USFRA officials prior to the Bonneville Electrathon event.

Electrathon vehicles are limited to carrying 67 pounds of sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries in their power pack to equalize and standardize the competition.  During traditional Electrathon races, competitors normally strive for range, seeing who can travel the fastest and farthest on a race track over one hour by using a minimum of electrical energy.  Electric motors are often scaled down to 2 horsepower or below.  However, even with these limitations, the EVs can achieve a range of 50 miles during a one-hour racing event, usually traveling at average freeway speeds of 50-65 mph. Because of their energy-efficient and aerodynamic designs, Electrathon vehicle power trains often consume less than one kilowatt/hour of total electricity for the entire race. 

There are three sanctioned racing divisions within the Electrathon America organization- “High School”, “College” and “Open” divisions.

Most of the initial volunteer organizational work to establish Electrathon America was begun in California and enjoyed widespread success during the late 1990s.  However, several different educational efforts then spun off from the Electrathon America-sanctioned “High School” and “College” divisions, forming separate splinter groups that created their own specific construction rules and racing circuits to promote the needs of their local educational regions.  While many regional efforts were successful in educating the next generation of EV designers, “Open” division racing by hobbyists and non-educational competitors declined as the number of national Electrathon America-sanctioned events diminished.

Electrathon America recently relocated its organizational headquarters to Oregon.  The national group is hoping to revive interest in low-cost, efficient EV racing for the general public as alternative fuel transportation once again regains popularity to offset rising gasoline prices and U.S. reliance on imported crude oil.

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During World of Speed, the USFRA allowed rule modifications to enable Electrathon racers to compete over a one-mile track and showcase their fastest vehicle designs for speed and performance instead of range.  The Electrathon vehicles were still limited to 67 pounds of sealed lead acid batteries.  However, the World of Speed competition encouraged upgrades to motor horsepower and to higher electrical current draw from the batteries through the motor speed controller to see just how fast these vehicles could travel.

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Kirk Swaney and Shane Harris both brought their three-wheel Electrathon vehicles and support teams to the Bonneville Salt Flats, instituting the first Electrathon America-sanctioned Open division racing competition “on the salt”.  The competition was close, pitting two teams from opposite poles of the design spectrum against each other.  The competition truly showed the wide array of design choices available to the Electrathon racing program, represented by two well-made vehicles.

Kirk’s red and black T-555 Electrathon racer placed first against Shane’s green and black T-105 racer, driven by high school student and co-designer Daniel Diaz.  The T-555 “set the bar” at 89.4 mph with a “come from behind” victory over the other team’s 86-mph time.  However, Shane and Daniel’s T-105 racer was only able to safely complete during two runs due to a faulty shutoff switch that caused a spinout and damage to the vehicle frame after the first run.  Driver Daniel Diaz felt that the T-105 vehicle reached peak speeds of 90 mph on the track but was actually slowing down when it entered the “speed trap” that recorded the timed trial run of 86 mph.  Both racing teams felt that 100-mph record times will be achievable by Electrathon racers, possibly as soon as next year.

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Kirk Swaney became involved with Electrathon competitions while leading a CAD drafting group at Hewlett-Packard Corporation (HP) in Corvalis, Oregon.  HP provided funding and sponsorship to his team of co-workers to create their own vehicle to race under Electrathon America rules in 1996.  Since that time, Kirk has become active in the organization and even started his own sideline business selling Electrathon vehicle parts at:

His T-555 red and black Electrathon racer utilized 18 Enersys™ batteries to create a 36-volt battery pack weighing 66 lbs. that drove a 6-hp (continuous) Etek™ electric motor with the aid of a Curtis™ 750-amp motor speed controller.  The vehicle was constructed to be very low to the ground but also lightweight, using a two-layer carbon fiber shell that was reinforced with balsa wood in its center.  The total vehicle weight was 177 lbs.   Kirk reached 89.4 mph on the best of five runs, the maximum number of attempts allowed during the competition.  A chronicle of his racing configuration choices for gearing of his chain drive system after each run, with each resulting time slip record is shown at the “World Record” web link on his web site at:

His record-setting third run was recorded by a camera mounted to the top of the Electrathon vehicle canopy as well as sideline videos taken by fellow Electrathon builder, Shane Harris, from the ground at:

Shane Harris hails from Walla Walla, Washington where he is a realtor by day but an artist, sculptor, teacher, bicycle frame designer, and Electrathon builder during much of his spare time.  His green and black T-105 Electrathon racer finished a close second to Kirk’s record-setting run with a best time of 86 mph using a 48-volt pack of Odyssey™ batteries from Batteries Plus in Kennewick, Washington, that weighed just 58 lbs.  This battery pack drove an 8-hp (continuous) Etek™ motor with the aid of an Alltrax™ motor speed controller.  The total weight of the vehicle is 120 lbs.  This unique racing platform was designed and constructed as an integrated monocoque-body, using composite materials consisting of a Kevlar bi-weave with aluminum/steel reinforcement.  A Lexan windshield was built into the vehicle.  Supplemental parts were purchased from Napa Auto Parts in Walla Walla, Washington.

Shane’s approach to Electrathon racing originated from his interest in designing and building human-powered transportation, including recumbent bicycles and hand-powered bicycles for paraplegics.  He taught as a volunteer in a local high school’s Industrial Arts class in Ukiah, Oregon where his students learned how to create their own custom bicycle designs.  When his students visited Portland International Raceway during a human-powered racing competition, their events were scheduled at the same time as local Electrathon racing competitions.  Shane saw the opportunity of the Electrathon program to integrate what his class was learning in mechanical engineering/aerodynamic design and take it to a higher level by including electrical and electronics design into the vehicle platform.

As a bicycle racer, himself, Shane had personally tested his own bicycle designs during land speed racing competitions with the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) that stages annual human-powered races near the town of Battle Mountain, Nevada:

The races are usually held on a stretch of Highway 305 that is blocked off for the event.  It is located 14 miles south of Battle Mountain, Nevada, near Highway 80.  The location of Battle Mountain is 219 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada and 310 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Racers with human-powered designs are now exceeding 80-mph land speed records.

Shane cited the inspiration for his approach to aerodynamic design from conversations he enjoyed with Georgi Georgiev, a world-renowned sculptor from Bulgaria who has established a lifetime of achievement designing and building human-powered transportation platforms.  His vehicles include the VARNA human-powered bicycle that first broke the 80-mph record barrier in 2001.  Mr. Georgiev was one of the first inductees into the HPVA’s Hall of Fame during the same year.  His web site is:

Shane Harris personally launched an Electrathon racing program as part of his students’ high school Industrial Arts class in Ukiah, Oregon during the late 1990s with an emphasis on aerodynamic design and manufacturing using Kevlar composite materials.  With industry support, as well as his own sculpting and fabrication skills, Shane taught his students how to build molds to create Kevlar composite canopies for the Electrathon racers as well as streamline their designs.  When Shane and his family moved to Walla Walla, Washington, Shane brought one of the Electrathon vehicles with him in order to continue to help coach new student designers in that town’s high schools, as well.

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Daniel Diaz was one of these students and is now attending Walla Walla Community College during the fall 2007 academic year.  Shane presented ownership of the green and black T-105 Electrathon vehicle to Daniel to be used as an educational platform for his future studies in EV design.  

David Dymaxion, an EV builder and Bonneville Salt Flats racer, also took pictures of the Electrathon vehicles at World of Speed 2007, documenting them at:

Electric Bar Stool Racing

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The USFRA’s World of Speed 2007 racing classes included several fun, novelty racing events, including Electric Bar Stool Racing at:

According to USFRA rules, a motorized bar stool must be built around a  real bar stool and is limited to one 12-volt battery as its power source driving an electric motor on wheels that have a maximum height of 10 inches.  There are two classes of competition-- the “Lakester” class and the “Streamliner” class.

During World of Speed 2003, the Ice Cream/Soda “No Fuel Barstool” was driven by owner Rob Spencer to establish a world record of 43.019 mph in the "Lakester” class over a 2/10-mile track.

The electric bar stool is owned by the Spencer family, including Rob’s wife, Debra, and son, Kaden, who also serve as the barstool’s pit crew.  During World of Speed 2007, Rob Spencer drove the environmentally-friendly barstool in the "Lakester” class to a new world record of 48.400 mph over the 2/10-mile track.

Brent Singleton has been collaborating with the Spencers for about a year to improve the barstool’s racing performance and is planning to drive the vehicle during next year’s World of Speed 2008.  He dug into his own pocket to finance some engineering modification “tricks” and also enlisted help from Dennis Berube to rebuild the series-wound electric starter motor on the bar stool to increase its speed and torque.  Dennis Berube has set many EV world records for electric dragsters, including bracket racing competitions against NHRA gasoline-powered dragsters at: 

David Dymaxion also documented the World of Speed 2007 electric barstool racing EVent, including video at:

Looking Ahead to World of Speed 2008

Brent and Kent Singleton are looking forward to World of Speed 2008 and are hoping to expand the number of events that feature alternative fuels racing.  They have actively recruited the help of Rick Vesco, head of Team Vesco, who owns the record-setting Turbinator streamliner.  With Rick as crew chief and his brother Don Vesco as driver, the team set a land speed record of 458 mph for a wheel-driven vehicle during Speed Week 2001 that still stands today.  During its record-setting run, the Turbinator was powered by a helicopter diesel turbine engine.  

Rick is willing to work with collaborating industries to convert the Turbinator’s engine to run on biofuels and chase new land speed records for these alternative fuel sources during future competitions. The Singletons, as Alternative Fuel Event Coordinators at Bonneville, have consulted with Team Vesco about plans for their proposed biofuels efforts since 2001.  For more information about the proposed Team Vesco biofuels project, contact:

The Dieselmax racing team from the United Kingdom has also recently announced in a press release their plan to take back from the USA the land speed record for wheel-driven vehicles at Bonneville Salt Flats.  Andy Green, an RAF pilot, is rumored to be driving for this UK team.  He has set international land speed records for jet-powered vehicles and is still the only competitor to drive at Mach-1 speeds.  On the Black Rock Desert in 1997, he piloted the ThrustSSC through the sound barrier at 763 mph.  He has also previously driven the Dieselmax vehicle to new international land speed racing records:

Solar-Powered EV Racing

Brent and Kent Singleton are also hoping to institute solar EV racing competitions during World of Speed by recruiting solar-powered EV racing teams from college campuses.  During the 1990s, many universities participated in solar power research for automotive applications, particularly with annual SunRayce competitions and other international events.  A brief history of this event can be found at the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) web site at:

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Solar cell electrical power yields and efficiencies have been improving in recent years.  A revival in student solar engineering competitions could help push this technology forward again as well as help educate the next generation of automotive designers and engineers about alternative fuel systems integration.

SCTA-BNI “World Finals” and FIA-Sanctioned Racing Events During October 2007

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The Ohio State University returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats in October 2007 during two separate competitions-- the SCTA-BNI “World Finals” and an FIA-sanctioned event the following week-- to continue the pursuit of their own land speed EV record while testing Buckeye Bullet 2.

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They were welcomed by a school bus full of Utah middle school students, who got a first hand view of Bonneville Salt Flats racing, courtesy of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition (UCCC).  The bus driver, students, teachers and chaperones even participated in a timed trial run down the Bonneville Salt Flats track.  SCTA-BNI Secretary Russ Eyers (shown above left) helped coordinate the school bus timed run with passengers aboard, escorted by SCTA vehicles.

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After the timed run, they proudly displayed their “time slip” showing speeds exceeding 60 mph while carrying a full load of passengers.

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Roger Schroer (shown above with Brent and UCCC students) again attempted to better the timed five-mile runs he had set with the Buckeye Bullet 2 during Speed Week.  He was successful in driving the BB2 above 220 mph.  However, despite his best efforts, the Ohio State University team fell short of the goal of 300 mph that they hoped to achieve during this visit.  The OSU Buckeye Bullet 2 team will be re-evaluating their fuel-cell power plant design over the next year to see if they can modify or improve it to achieve higher speeds during 2008.

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For questions about next year’s upcoming Alternative Fuels racing events, contact Brent and Kent Singleton by email:

Brent and Kent would like to invite all EV enthusiasts to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats to support Alternative Fuels Racing events and also consider the opportunity to race their own electric vehicles on the same international land speed raceway as Burt Munro’s “World’s Fastest Indian”. 

The authors would also like to wish all these pioneering Bonneville Salt Flats racers continued success.  Thank you for enthusiastically advancing the art and science of alternative fuel land speed racing while showing just how fast eco-friendly transportation technology can move!