Drag racing legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits took the Swamp Rat 37 Quest EV Dragster for its maiden voyage on Wednesday at the Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, and wasted little time in making history, setting a new battery powered quarter-mile record with a 7.25 at 184 mile per hour run. While not quite 200 MPH yet, the team, with chassis builder Brad Hadman and co-owner Mike Gerry, is confident they will meet their goal in the coming weeks.
The day began with an easy run, clocking a 10.05 at 129 MPH on the cars’ first full quarter-mile pass. Shawn Lawless and the Lawless Industries crew were on hand to service the car and make tuning adjustments to the electric motor as necessary. Battery designer and builder Derrick Barger from HighTech Systems LLC was also on hand to ensure everything was in order with the custom LiPo battery packs. With 1500 KW on tap, monitoring the systems is critical to avoid overheating and also to ensure proper voltage during a run.
The second attempt was another easy run netting an 8.74 at 150 MPH, the decision was then made to give it some real power but the next two passes resulted in blown fuses before the 330’. The Quest for 200 on Batteries team was not to be discouraged and went back to work making repairs and adjustments. The next pass resulted in a nice 7.526 at 178.42, a new record for an EV Dragster.
The power was turned up again for another run and Garlits swapped over to the right lane, but it was to no avail as the car didn’t stick. He shut it down 200 feet out as it moved right and out of the groove. He came right back around to run the left lane as he’d done on the previous runs, resulting in the best pass of the day, the record-setting 7.25 shot.
“We didn’t quite make two hundred but set a record going 184 for an automobile on batteries, but this is a completely experimental car, and it’s the first time it’s ever run out here like this over the full length of the track,” said Garlits. “We found a couple of little things that have to be corrected. I feel certain that in the next few weeks we’ll go the magical 200 MPH that we’re shooting for. The elapsed time just boggled my mind — we were looking for about a 7.80-7.75 and it went 7.25. That’s a great elapsed time and that tells us the gear is a little bit short to get to 200. We’re going to put a little taller gear in it and I think that will take care of it.”
Check out the National Electric Drag Racing Association for more information on battery powered racing.
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