Interview: MotoElectra’s Brian Richardson (and History)

Simply put, Team MotoElectra made history.  On October 9, 2010, at the Barber Motorsports Park, in front of a record-breaking crowd, an electric-drive converted Norton Featherbed frame ridden by a veteran rider of similar vintage, Thad Wolff, took the field from a last-place start.  The field was made up of gasoline-powered bikes.  Since then, the Norton has run strong consistently, hitting the podium in several other races, and is the work of Brian Richardson and the rest of Team MotoElectra – a group of modest, fanatical amateur enthusiasts.  Working out of a sheep barn in rural Virginia.

So, the combination of the vintage Norton frame, sheep, and the image of these guys getting together to hang out and build stuff that goes fast got me asking questions.  Here they are, and here are Brian’s answers:

Let’s start with the bike-  Why the Norton frame?
I wanted to build a café racer. The best place to start is always the Norton Featherbed. Now for a motor that no one else has used. It must “do the ton” (go over 100 mph) and look cool doing so. Once there was a bike called a Norton Electra — bingo, got-it, eureka, end-of-story.

What are the specs?
You will see our bike on Thunderstruck Motors home page. Last year we ran Thunderstruck’s AC-20. Suffice it to say, we ran everything over spec. The AC-20 and Curtis controller were bullet-proof. We were topping 125 mph on the straights at VIR in 110 degree heat. That motor got really hot, but despite all the punishment, it never failed. Our batteries are Kokam purchased through StarkPower.

We opted for a very simple set-up of large amp hour cells. Result: Fewer connections/simplicity but limitations on our flexibility to re-configure the pack for higher voltage. We never made any adjustments to our battery pack. After a full season of racing and testing, everything is in perfect balance and ready to go racing in May of 2011.

This years machine will be a little different. Will it work? We don’t know. We will be happy to release some specifications after the first race or two.

Can you give us some info about your background in racing?
I have zero background in motorcycle racing (well except for last season!).

Tell us about the team itself… a little about the makeup, the history-


  • Thad Wolff – “The Wolffman” Former AMA PRO rider from the early 1980’s (Thad may be old as the 1950’s Norton Featherbed, but none the worse for wear.)
  • John Wild – “Johnny Weld” Fabricator extraordinaire! John can build anything. A true Professional!
  • Rob Prins – “The Doctor” Our electronics engineer in charge of the bikes brain
  • Martin Koebler – “Mr. Kokam” our battery man, and the most experience of anyone on the team. Martin is StarkPower. Want Kokam? – then you want Martin.
  • Brian Richardson – “The Sheep Farmer”, Country Lawyer, and builder of racing motorcycles.

This next statement said it all, for me.  Somewhere someone once said a man has to recognize where he is in the times he’s living in… well Mr. Richardson and Team MotoElectra clearly see that.  Here’s your dose of inspiration for the day:

“This is the golden age of electric vehicle racing — no need to look back — you are living through it! Teams from barns and back-yard sheds are taking on corporations. Like NASCAR or Grand Prix in the 1950’s & 60’s. Anyone can win. Anyone can make history. Money is spent, but this is a special time when desire is more valuable.”

The Moto-Electra website is here.

Their FaceBook page is here.

Follow MotoElectra on Twitter, here.

I’m going to just post this here, to help support the team in my own little way.   Team MotoElectra is sponsored by:

Markel American Insurance Company: For over 35 years, Markel American Insurance Company’s sole focus has been insuring motorcycles, boats and ATVs – unlike other insurance companies that offer it as a supplement to their auto and homeowners business.

IceWarp Communications : Unified Communications is IceWarp’s sole focus and has been our raison d’être for over a decade. Built with the best features of communication, collaboration, security and mobility, IceWarp revolutionizes how organizations work and communicate.

We develop solutions capable of serving the entire spectrum of organizations – from small businesses, to enterprise, to multi-million user data centers – on the same scalable, secure and affordable platform.

Law Offices of John C. Singleton: This general practice law firm serves Bath County and Highland County in Virgina. Contact them at (540) 839-5009.


One response to “Interview: MotoElectra’s Brian Richardson (and History)

  1. Pingback: MotoElectra Featured at Barber Motorsports Museum·


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