“Racing improves the breed” the saying goes. That is equally true for four-legged and four-wheeled creatures. Racing improves the speed, durability, and behaviour of a one-horse or multi-horsepower competitor.
• Henry Ford successfully raced one of his early cars in 1901, which started the success story of the ‘Blue Oval’ company.
• Antoine Cadillac, as well as Louis Chevrolet, were born in Europe and immigrated to Canada first. After going south, Chevrolet designed, built, and raced a Buick, and later a Fiat, before becoming better known by his name being part of the General Motors Empire. Louis Chevrolet was not financially successful, but his Frontenac car won the Indy-500 in 1920, his brother driving.
• Soichiro Honda started to conquer the world with his 125 cc motorbikes winning races in Europe, long before success in Indy-cars and Formula 1. “You meet the nicest people on a Honda“, was his slogan in 1962, before winning more races won more customers for Honda around the world.
• Ferdinand Porsche first raced and won with his hybrid-electric cars in 1900. In 2014, Porsche, the newest member of the Volkswagen Group, will be racing their latest hybrid-electric car at the grueling 24 Hours at Le Mans.
Hybrid electric and battery-electric vehicles are making a comeback after being dormant for a century. Audi, also a member of the VW Group, just won the FIA World Endurance Championship with their hybrid prototypes, dubbed ‘e-tron’.
The first Volkswagen EV already made its debut at auto shows: the small e-up! The up! –that’s its real name– is indeed proof positive that racing improves the breed. The ever-popular Golf comes ‘electrified’ as well next year, on its way into the alternative transportation era.
In the way that many carmakers proved their potential in the early days by racing successfully, the same way automakers and their suppliers are now starting to race electrically.
Also in 2014, a new class of open-wheel racecars will make their debut: Formula E. Looking similar to Formula 1 or IndyCars, they will race in capital cities around the world, and in Los Angeles and Miami on this continent, to show that electric racecars are just as exciting as “real” racecars. (just kidding).
Cars with an electric motor actually accelerate faster than cars with an engine (still wrongly called motor-cars) Electric motors have maximum torque (power) from zero to top speed, whereas engines need to ‘rev up’ before they develop maximum torque.
Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner, and winning the CART (now IndyCar) championship in 2000 and 2001, was named the official ambassador of the Formula E by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile).
Gil said, “Electric vehicles are undoubtedly playing an increasing role in the transportation landscape worldwide and as such, electric car racing will provide the perfect platform to help accelerate the development of relevant technologies and showcase the potential in an exciting way. The FIA Formula E Championship is the leading global initiative in electric car racing and I am thrilled and honored to be able to lend my expertise to this exciting and ground breaking endeavor."