BMW ActiveE and Coda electric sedan

2012 REFUEL electric car and motorcycle race bigger and badder than ever

In what may be the biggest yet assemblage of high powered electric vehicles, the 2012 REFUEL races, in its fourth year, is turning into a powerhouse of an informal electric racing event.

The rest of the 25 production electric cars present ran the gamut of the available electric cars, including at least 5 Nissan Leaf's, 5 BMW ActiveE's, and a Coda electric car that the Coda engineering team souped up with racing gear. The fastest non-Tesla was a Nissan Leaf, coming in 9th place with a 2:02.883 lap time, driven by Nader Assemi. The Coda electric car had a respectable 2:12.109 lap time, and was driven by Cory Lagoe. There were a pair of Chevy Volts present. The only production electric cars not represented were the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Ford Focus Electric.

Also present were 13 electric motorcycles, most of which were Zero S's, many of which were ridden by Zero Motorcycles employees. Many of those bikes had been, um, modified considerably. Brammo brought the Empulse RR, ridden by Steve Atlas, making that bike the only one of the top end electric bikes at the 2012 REFUEL.

The Empulse RR is the bike with which Brammo prototyped what has become the Empulse R. With the Empulse RR, Brammo won the 2011 North American TTXGP championship, and is on their way to repeating that achievement in 2012. This bike is in the top league of electric motorcycles, and is considerably faster than the Zero S's. Steve Atlas's lap time was 1:40.269 and after the race he felt the bike was capable of even more. This bike is due to return to Laguna Seca in a couple weeks for the e-Power / TTXGP race during the MotoGP weekend.

The Zero S's top out at 90 miles/hr (or so) and gave lap times from 2:00.389 (for a modified Zero S ridden by Jamie Perugini) to the 2:10-2:20 range for the others. One particular bike, known as the Bicycle of Doom, is a completely custom build that loosely resembles a bicycle, and even has operable pedals. Last year Luke Workman had a 2:41 laptime with the Bicycle of Doom, and this year he goosed it up to 2:13.453 thanks to a bigger motor and controller.

The event is organized by Speed Ventures, a racing instruction company. They run track days all the time giving amateur racers a chance for track time, and expert racing instruction. Four years ago they started the REFUEL series, recognizing the growth of electric cars and the plausibility that electric cars would become mainstream, even in racing. Today, they have a rapidly growing event on their hands, that more than doubled over the 2011 attendance, due largely to the ever-increasing number of production electric vehicles from major manufacturers.

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