Electric Drag Racing- the good, the bad…

…and some other guy.

I’m going to start right out with a disclaimer- watching the Killacycle blow a commutator at the end of a record-setting run back in, what, ’06, is one of the things that really sparked (oh crap, there we go again) my interest in electric bikes.  I’d seen a few small trail bikes, and some home builds, but until I saw the Killacycle I had no idea how awesome an electric bike could be.

The Killacycle site tells you all you need to know- including the fact that a woman- Eva Hakansson, Crew Chief, and PR for the team- is a major player in the EV motorcycle community- recently part of the team that completed a record-setting Pikes Peak run.

One of the earliest adopters of the A123 battery systems, Killacycle has done exactly what you’d think A123 hoped for- they’ve brought EVs into the public spotlight, placed A123 batteries at the top of the heap of battery technology, and inspired the growth of a new sport.

Enter, Shawn Lawless*.  Lawless has worked with OCC on the big, green hybrid chopper we saw via Orange County Choppers.  He’s also heavily involved in the NEDRA, (President, I believe, at least at one time…) and he clearly has a sense of humor.  Take a look at this, from the NEDRA 100mph club.  Um.  If someone rode that cute little thing at over 100mph, they’re a better man than I…

A while back, one of the members of ElMoto.net stopped by the OCC shop in upstate NY for a tour.  Peering where he ought not to have been peering, he saw this- an absolutely huge motor in an equally huge frame- causing a whole lot of speculation on the group about what was coming out of OCC.

In that thread, Shawn Lawless appeared…  and confirmed a lot of our speculation. After a pretty short while, they ran the bike- resulting in the video you see at the top of the post.

Unfortunately, that thread and another turned into one of the uglier examples of trash-talking I’ve seen on a non-photography-related forum.  Bill Dube of Killacycle joined the group and the conversation, offering a huge amount of information and clarification.  Then, apparently, word got out and Kent Riches decided he’d hash out some beef with Bill and the Killacycle team.  What started as a great, informative, civil banter turned into a slugfest- but mostly coming from Mr Kent.  Ultimately his tact and grace got him a temporary ban from the group…  but if you’re into some WWF scripting, read the whole thread- linked above.  Some of the more offensive posts have been removed, thankfully.

Kent Riches apparently is no stranger to pissing people off, and, in fact, his site claims “A last minute sponsorship deal fell apart and now we are struggling for help to run this year….”. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to guess why.  They also claim “The Riches/ Nelson E-Race bike is officially certified as the worlds fastest electric motorcycle at a blistering 176.434mph” There’s no photo or description of the bike or the run on their site. I’m honestly not even interested enough to try to find out more…

Personally, I think it’s a shame that this kind behavior exists at this level, and in a sport so exciting, so new, and in such a small community.  I can only think of the support, sportsmanship and sense of community that we’ve seen in the TTXGP races- here’s a great story from Asphalt and Rubber- A Postscript on e-Power at Laguna Seca . I’m also reminded of young Matt Dieckmann- a true ambassador of the sport, and recently killed in a tragic accident.

Time will tell, as the history of Electric Motorsports continues to be written.  The parts people play, and the results of their efforts play out day by day- and the true statesmen of this exciting new sport will undoubtably make their marks.  The rest is just noise.

My heartfelt thanks to Bill Dube, Shawn Lawless and all the folks working so hard to bring this sport to the forefront of MotorSports- there’s at least one more bike running on batteries in the world because of you (and it’s parked in my garage…) and  I’m looking forward to watching the records fall in 2011!

Now- in honor of their years of hard work and sportsmanship- the video that started it all for me…  The Killacycle running the AHDRA in 2006- keep your eyes open at 1:08:

*OK, “the bad”- how could I not make a guy named “Lawless” the “bad”?  I mean, I bet chicks dig him just from his name- all that bad boy stuff and all…


6 responses to “Electric Drag Racing- the good, the bad…

  1. Ted,

    Thanks for the PLUG. Oh, sorry there it is again. The lttle AGNS bike with the knobby did indeed go 100+. In fact, 147 + MPH. We switched out the knobby when we got to 87 MPH. Like you I caught the bug watching others before me. For me it was the heads up race between Dennis Berube in his CE4 dragster and Scotty on Bill Dube’s Killacycle in Vegas 2002. The good times we have had going to tracks around the country running EV’s are countless. The lessons we have learned, innumerable. The online trash side of the sport attempts to, but cannot trump the actual racing. Ironically, the same type of technology that is beginning to allow for mainstream EV racing also allows a means for what were once racing pit or barroom squabbles to reach the worlds ears/eyes for eternity. There is as much to learn on how to handle that front as there is technologically in our race vehicles.
    Here’s to 2011. Hang On!

  2. Yeah, I read that thread as well. Its a shame. It seems obvious that Kent is a talented bike builder, no doubt about that. But no one out there wants to know someone as arrogant as that. Perhaps he just has some growing up to do and will return as an asset to the electric motorcycle industry next year instead of whatever you call it now. On a lighter note, we have a bunch of class acts in the field and more are entering everyday it seems.

  3. Pingback: Shawn Lawless teams with Orange County Choppers, steals quarter mile crown from Killacycle [w/video] | 4x4 Parts Review·

  4. Pingback: Shawn Lawless teams with Orange County Choppers, steals quarter mile crown from Killacycle [w/video] | Blue Planet News·

  5. Pingback: Shawn Lawless teams with Orange County Choppers, steals quarter mile crown from Killacycle [w/video] *UPDATE | Blue Planet News·

  6. Ted
    its pretty easy to find some pix of my race bike….. go to the home page and click on projects and the motorcycle….you will find hundreds of pix…. you can also go to scta-bni.org and find the certified record listing


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