Electric Race Cars, From The Dragstrip To Pikes Peak (Photo Gallery)

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Electric cars are certainly becoming a more familiar sight on the roads these days, but in the ultra-competitive world of professional motor sport they're also beginning to get a foot-hold.

Regular readers will be no stranger to many of these vehicles, tackling disciplines as diverse as crossing Australia on solar power, setting record times up the infamous Pikes Peak hill climb, and outrunning gasoline vehicles at the drag strip.

We've decided to pull some of these vehicles together into a gallery to celebrate their existence, because they're more important than you might think.

Motor sport has long been the arena in which top road vehicle technologies are developed, and the stresses and unique demands of the sport will do the same for electric vehicles.

Perhaps even more importantly, they have the potential to completely change the perception of electric cars for regular folk in the streets. If you see a top driver winning the weekend's race on the TV, it'll make you think in a whole new way about its showroom equivalent--and may convince you to take the electric plunge.

Nissan ZEOD RC electric Le Mans prototype

Unveiled at this year's 24 Heures du Mans endurance race in northern France, the Zeod RC is gunning for Audi in 2014's running of the race. Based partly on 2012's amazing Nissan-backed Deltawing race car, the Zeod RC promises to be even faster. The drivetrain is anticipated to be a kind of extended-range electric setup, using a generator to provide power for entire laps on electricity.

Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II

2012 was Mitsubishi's first year tackling the famous Pikes Peak hill climb in Colorado, but an accident and resulting difficulties meant they never achieved quite what they hoped for. 2013 was more fruitful, and while the gasoline-powered Peugeot of Sebastien Loeb stole the show, Mitsubishi and fellow electric entrant Monster Tajima didn't disgrace themselves.

Formula Student

As the name suggests, Formula Student pits university teams from all around the world against each other in specially-constructed open-wheel racers. For the first time in the competition's history, an electric vehicle has won the event. Why is this important? Just think where those students might be in ten or twenty years time...

White Zombie

Electric vehicles are pretty much born for drag racing. Instant torque, the potential for massive power, no gears to worry about messing up, and no worries about range! White Zombie, a 1970s Datsun, was one of the first to make a real impact on the scene--and a real car to celebrate as a result.

Nissan Leaf NISMO RC

A great shame of the Leaf NISMO RC is that it has nowhere to really race. Instead, it's a technical exercise by Nissan and its tuning arm NISMO, to show what is possible with electric vehicles. It's a little more aggressive than your average Leaf road car, but while it doesn't race, it still as a purpose: Some of its tech is expected to go into the ZEOD RC competing at Le Mans next year.

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