There was a farce comedy movie back in the 60s called “The Great Race”. It starred Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn, just about anybody who was farcical comedies back then. It was a fake movie, more or less based on real events, the actual 1908 New York-to-Paris race, and Tony Curtis’ ride, “The Leslie Special”, was a loose interpretation of the 1907 Thomas Flyer that won the real race.
That move, and the real race, is what popped into my mind when I read that an eco-bent Swiss teacher was planning on staging a round-the-world race for EVs.
A hundred years ago, races were essentially “reliability trials”. They were seen as a way to prove out who had the best engineering, not necessarily the fastest car. Indeed, the first race held was called “The Paris to Rouen Reliability Trials”.
And if you fast forward to today, you could apply a lot of the same logic and rationales to electric cars. Not that they have reliability problems – quite the opposite in fact. EVs are usually incredibly reliable. What they lack, and all you gearheads should know this by now, is range.
Sure, sure, we cold let R & D departments work on the problem for the next few decades, but if you really want to improve the breed, turn them loose on a race track.
The current idea, which is to EV around the globe in 80 days, comes from the cranium of a Swiss teacher by the name of Louis Palmer. He recently circumnavigated the planet in 17 months in his solar-powered “taxi” and is now putting together a zero emissions race around the world.
The whole idea is to cover the 30,000 kilometer (18,641 mile) route in a Phileas Fogg-like eighty days.
At the moment eight teams are on the entry list including rides as diverse as the ErockIT, the Tesla Roadster and the Loremo. Naturally, the whole 30K clicks will be filmed and made into a documentary when the race kicks off from the 2010 Geneva Motor Show in June 2010.
And since this is an EV deal, in addition to overall winner, competitors will also be assessed on various other criteria such reliability, safety and affordability. Applications are still being taken, so if you think you got the car & the skills, I say swing by and sign up and go do it.
If we get enough different kinds of EV racing going, maybe we can get some real, and real fun, cars out of the deal.