The Racing Capital
of the World
August 15, 2013 | By Tom Surber
Among the motorcycles racing this weekend during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP are some machines that don’t pull up to the pump for fuel to reach speeds of 150 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
They pull up to the plug, instead.
The FIM eRoadRacing North American Regional Series featuring electric-powered racing motorcycles will make its Indianapolis Motor Speedway debut this weekend during the annual MotoGP World Championship event at the Brickyard. The electric bikes will practice at 5:05 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, qualify at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 and race at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18.
FIM eRoad Racing features machines that will reach speeds approaching 160 mph on the front straightaway at IMS. The motorcycles are high-performance machines, pushing the boundaries of electric vehicles and serving a vital role in the development of electric-powered technology.
“This is no Prius,” eRoadRacing competitor Ted Rich said. “It’s a high-performance motorcycle right off the shelf just like R6 or any of the gas Supersport bikes. This is a real motorcycle. You could ride it to work every day, you can race it out here; it’s ready for prime time. It’s very unique, too.
“Riding one of these, there’s no clutch, there’s no transmission. It’s all direct-drive, so there’s a lot less going on, and it’s an easy bike to ride.”
Rich, from Cave Creek, Ariz., has served as a development rider for electric bikes for the last two years. He also recently rode an electronic motorcycle on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah that topped out at 218 mph.
“They already hold the record at Pikes Peak in beating all the bikes to the top of Pikes Peak this year,” Rich said of electric-powered bikes. “They hold the record for the fastest production bikes already, so the electric bikes have already surpassed the gas bikes in many, many ways.
“Gas bikes are kind of at their pinnacle. Their gains are 1 or 2 percent a year, and these things are gaining 10 percent a year, 20 percent a year. This last year I raced a production Zero electric bike at Laguna Seca, and this year we went 10 seconds a lap faster on the same production electric bike, and that’s the advancement in one year. So who knows where we’ll be next year? It’s cool to be on the cutting edge of this stuff. It’s good fun.”
Rich will race Sunday against his girlfriend, Elaine Carpenter, who also works full time as an equine surgeon. Rich and Carpenter turned demonstration laps of their electric-powered Zero S machines Wednesday at IMS.
Shelina Moreda, one of Rich and Carpenter’s competitors in the eRoadRacing event Sunday, also is pulling double-duty this weekend at IMS by racing Saturday and Sunday in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series race. She’s the only rider this weekend to race in two classes or series.
Moreda, from Petaluma, Calif., became the first woman to race a motorcycle at IMS when she competed in the Harley-Davidson races during the 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP. She enjoys the differences and similarities of the two distinctive bikes she’ll race at IMS.
“The Harley is loud, and the electric bike is almost silent,” Moreda said. “They both talk to you in the way that they move and the way that they shift and everything, so you’re getting a lot of feedback from the bikes besides the noise, so in a lot of ways they’re very similar, suspension-wise and handling and everything like that.”
Moreda’s Brammo Empulse TTX machine differs from the stock-based Zero S machines that Rich and Carpenter will ride in some ways, most notably that it has a transmission like a gas-powered bike instead of direct-drive.
“Both bikes are pretty smooth, actually, through the gearing,” Moreda said of her Brammo electric and Harley gas-powered bikes. “The electric bike, I would say is smoother out of the corners and things like that, but they’re getting closer and closer to combustion bikes.”
2013 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2013 Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP event. Visit www.ims.com/tickets, call (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700 or visit the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
Information on camping at IMS during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP is available at www.ims.com/tickets. Hotel package information can be found at visitindy.com/redbullhotels.