(President Vito Ippolito delivered the prestigious 2010 FIM Environmental Award to Betti Thomas)
Thomas kindly took the time to answer my endless questions, which I’ve translated here. This is truly an honor to be able to help tell this story. Here it is:
What made you think to make an electric motorcycle and race it?
We have built an electric motorcycle because we have always been passionate about motorcycles of all types to 360 degrees. A friend of my father, who for years ran electric cars asked us, why not try to make an electric motorcycle? Racing F.I.A. (International Automobile Federation) is a category IV, which also includes the two-wheel vehicles (category were FIA racing cars and go-kart electric separately for each category.)
What was the motor and battery on your first bikes? How did that change over the years?
For the first motorcycles were common and heavy batteries used for starting. In the second motorcycle batteries are lead-gel bike more performance. The engines were brush engines.
Who else raced with you? How many electric bikes?
Many Italians-eg Centenaro Aurelius, who won the championship in 2001 but the competitors were from all over Europe- mostly from Austria. That the biggest event of the season with dozens of participants, but not all vehicles were very competitive.
What races did you compete in?
The Solar Electro-FIA was organized primarily in Europe, had also planned a race in Japan but no one has ever had the economic resources to go to Japan, the Japanese will come to Europe.
In Italy there was the FIVE (Italian Federation of Alternative Energy Vehicles) so the two were a world championship with an Italian with the FIA and the FIVE. Races were held in Italy in conjunction.
Races were held in two rounds from about 12 km each, between the first and the second race there was a minimum of three hours where you could charge the battery.
Were you racing with gas bikes, or was it only electrics?
In my humble rider career I raced only with electric bikes, bikes with “normal” I have only trained!
What’s your relationship with the FIM now? The TTXGP?
In 2006 or 2005, I remember, we were contacted if we were going to participate in a competition that likely would take place in tourist Tropy with electric bikes, but at the time and lead-gel batteries for a ride of 66 km was too, only with Li Po was possible.
What do you think is the future of electric motorcycle racing?
The future of electric bikes I see very positive. The question to ask is not whether electric bikes will become the future of our everyday lives, but when!
My thought is: one day fossil fuels will end, but I think the motorcycle and everything that entails will never end, the electric bikes are the natural evolution. What type of battery will be the future, we can not know, but the bikes will be electric.
What do you feel is the part you played in where we are with today’s racing? Do you feel you guys paved the way, or do you think it would have happened anyway?
I think we have done something great in our small way, surely it would’ve happened anyway but to be sure, we were an inspiration to many.
Indeed. And thanks.
Laguna Seca ePower- 2010