Continuing our love affair with crazy World Records… this week we take a look across the park to Santa Pod for another ultra-impressive driving record. After Tanner Faust’s 332ft Jump at the Indy 500 last week, brothers Sam & Olly Young set a fantastic new World Record on 4 wheels – for electric car drag racing!
Having converted a 1965 VW Beetle to an electric power source, the brothers have created a monster by the name of ‘Black Current’ and raced their way into the record books.
Here, we caught up with the guys to see how it feels to be in the limelight, how they did it – and what’s next for them & the future of electric transport…
So what exactly is the Black Current, and how did it come into existence?
Black Current III is a 1965 VW Beetle that has been converted to electric. This is the Third attempt at building an electric Beetle, starting with the Beetle/Milk-float amalgamation of Black Current I back in 2004. Since then we have been trying to make it faster, and ‘Black Current III’ is a full on dragster with a chassis tagged to 8.50s. It is very simple idea; in essence we have a big electric motor, lot’s of batteries, and a massive controller. Power is then channelled from the batteries through the controller to the motors. When the car launched, we had to use a 2000amp at 360Vdc, this generates approximately 14-1500ftlbs of torque. We now use two electric forklift truck motors grafted together, and the batteries are Lithium Cobalt Oxide.
Who raced for the record, and was it difficult?
We have been chasing the record for the last five years, it has previously been held by a guy called John Wayland in the USA with his car White Zombie. He has held the record since 2005.
It has been a lot of work and many hours of head scratching. The record we hold is a straight forward drag race over the ¼ mile, and is actually not the fastest we have been, but due to the record regulation you have to have two runs under your belt and if they are within 1% you can use the faster time – if not you have to use the slower time. Our PB is 9.51s, but our World Record is 9.82s.
How long have you spent working on it?
We started building the current car 3 years ago and it took 2 years to build. Last year we raced a full season with the VWDRC (petrol cars) and finished fourth in the championship. This year we have changed our batteries from lead acid to lithium to save weight and create more power. This seems to be working!
What has it involved from each of you?
Sam Young is the driver leaving me time to concentrate on car setup, tuning, data logging, and analysis. We are always trying to push the car to its limits.
Was this the ‘maiden voyage’, or just the best exposure?
We started racing at the beginning of 2010 and became the 3rd fastest in the world. This April after the winter’s modifications, we ran the World record.
How does it feel to have the record? Have you beaten off much competition?
It does feel awesome to hold the record, we are not sure how long we will keep it for as the batteries are a big part of the record, and due to the big push automotive companies are making toward hybrid/full electric cars battery performance is improving every day. This meant as soon as we had broken the record – we were straight away looking at how to go faster.
How long will it be until we can have electric cars on track days do you think?
There is a new electric car series that is due to start EVCup, but I don’t really know much more than that about it. Also, the Isle Of Man TT are racing electric bikes this week. So it is here already. Not sure how it will work in comparison to the petrol series, but you’ve got to start somewhere. To be honest though, I can’t see that electric would overtake petrol or diesel very soon.
Do you see our road cars and supercars making the jump to electric power any time soon?
Once again there are a few cars already out there, namely the Tesla, that you could pass as an electric super car. That’s pretty quick (we raced one last year).
What is next for you guys, making the Black Current faster or starting a new project?
What’s next… definitely look at making Black Current faster. We are already working on it! And always looking at new projects, maybe building something for a slightly different application.
Excellent! Thanks for talking to us today guys, well done for the record and good luck in future events & competitions!
If you’re interested in motor racing like this and would like to get started in the driving world, take a look at the experiences we’ve got at Santa Pod – you never know, you might catch some more crazy / fantastic records like this one here!