Duff Beer 1981 Jet Electrica 007 (Plymouth TC3) - Murilee Martin/24 Hours of Lemons
Our readers may be having a change of heart when it comes to electric-car racing based on the results of our latest Twitter poll.
In previous comments and surveys, readers have expressed little interest in electric car racing beyond, perhaps drag racing, and expressed cynicism and sometimes outright contempt for other forms of "wasted" electrons, especially Formula E racing.
Now, another race promoter has proposed a new electric race series—for $500 LeMons hoopties (minus the battery pack and electric motors), racing head-to-head with gas-powered beaters in perhaps the most democratic form of motorsports.
Following that announcement, last week, we asked our Twitter followers which type of electric car racing they thought would be most likely to attract interest and confidence in electric cars. Our Twitter question was specifically: "What kind of racing is the best way to stoke new interest in electric vehicles?"
Sending old battery-powered wrecks out on the track to battle it out fender-to-fender with gas jalopies proved by far the most popular with our readers, garnering 62 percent of our votes in a rare absolute majority.
What kind of racing is the best way to stoke new interest in electric vehicles?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) April 2, 2019
In another surprise, our readers second choice was Formula E, with 23 percent of responses. Formula E brings F1-style races to cities around the world, including New York (twice a year), and Hong Kong, in a way that F1 can't. Since Formula E cars generate no tailpipe pollution, and are much quieter than Formula 1 cars, they don't have the same negative environmental impacts on other city dwellers that F1 does. And they make big-winged, open-wheel racing accessible to masses of potential fans that might never be able to travel to a Formula 1 race.
This year, Formula E adopted a new format where a single car will complete the full 62-or-so-miles of the race without swapping cars to get a new battery, which should help build confidence in electric cars among fans.
Electric drag racing, sort of the godfather to other forms of both amateur and professional electric racing, appealed to only 12 percent of our readers. Teslas were famous for blasting ahead of conventional cars in drag races, perhaps in part because they're fast, but also overheated and went into a safe mode on longer race tracks.
Our readers' final choice was hill climb events, such as Pikes Peak, where Volkswagen demolished the course record last June with its ID R electric race car. Hill climb racing, at least on big mountains such as Pikes Peak are something of an ideal showcase for electric-car racing technology because electric cars don't depend on oxygen and run out of power at high altitudes like gas cars. Delivering as much power at the top of the mountain as at the bottom, electric racers can make much quicker runs to the top.
We're all for whatever kind of racing promotes electric cars, and we hope LeMons attracts plenty of interest with its new electric class—maybe even among our readers. As always, though, our polls are unscientific, because of low sample size and because our respondents are self-selected. Perhaps in this case, they're showing their roots as a bunch of frustrated race engineers.