On the 50th anniversary of mankind's first moon landing, last Saturday, another kind of new record hit the electric car community.
Legendary drag-racer Don Garlits, who was setting racing records before the moon landing, set two new speed records in an electric dragster in the quarter mile, one for a time of 7.235 seconds, and the other for a trap speed of 189.04 mph at the end of the quarter mile, Hot Rod Magazine reports.
While those results, on two subsequent runs at Palm Beach International Raceway, each set records, the team missed their ultimate goal of hitting 200 mph in the quarter mile after the car broke an axle in a third attempt.
In addition to his eight national drag racing championships in the sport's fastest Top Fuel class, the 87-year-old Garlits—known as "Big Daddy" in the sport—also held the previous record for a quarter mile pass in an electric dragster set in 2014 at 184 mph.
That car used many of Garlits' well-known innovations, such as an aerodynamic (and protective) canopy over the cockpit and a "spoon" front end with wide fenders covering smaller front wheels.
Don Garlits broke the 200 mph mark 50 years ago
For the latest attempt at 200 mph, Garlits and his team went back to basics, stripping 1,000 pounds out of the dragster, getting it down to 1,500 pounds and giving it a more classic look.
The dragster uses a wound, 800-horsepower motor from an electric speed-record-setting motorcycle. While its massive 1,500 pound-feet of torque output proved too much for the axle Garlits used, the motor brought some new excitement to the drag-racing stands. After the sun set for the last run, spectators could see current arcing through the motor as Garlits smoked the tires to warm them for the final run.
"Big Daddy" isn't the only drag racer interested in electric power. Drag strips have hosted plenty of Teslas at weekend grudge nights. And the National Hot Rod Association, the sport's main sanctioning body, is considering opening a class for electric dragsters. Top funny-car driver Bob Tasca III, who also owns a large chain of car dealerships, says he's looking forward to their arrival.