One of those pesky, little complaints that today's electric car just can't live down is the fact that it can't quite perform at the same level as its dirtier, gas-pumping brethren. It can't travel as far. It can't drive as fast. And it may just leave you for dead in the middle of nowhere.
But the gap is slowly closing, and teams of determined engineers and drivers are showing what the electric car is capable of. Look no further than the fascinating world of absolute land speed records. A team headed by Don Wales, a driver that has a distinguished pedigree for land-speed racing, will attempt a record electric run with goals of exceeding 500 mph. Yes, fuel-powered cars are talking double that speed, but 500 mph is still a hefty feat--especially considering that a record of 307 mph was set less than a year ago, and just over a decade ago, Wales notched the record at just 137 mph.
The car is called the Bluebird Electric, and the team is still fine tuning the aerodynamics and chassis design with an eye toward an official record attempt in 2013. As part of its testing, the Bluebird team will be heading to the Pendine Sands in Wales on the weekend of July 2 and 3 to for speed trials on the current iteration of the car. The team will also be aiming to set U.K. records during the weekend. And it's appealing to the community to pitch in and lend a hand.
Wales said in a recent press release: "I have a team of 30 people requiring accommodation and feeding and volunteers are needed to help as course marshals and fodders (people who remove debris from the sands). Without a principal sponsor as yet, the development of the car is taking all of what limited budget we have".
Ordinarily, I'm a rather cynical chap, and I'd say something to the effect of "If you can afford to devote time, money and resources to building a multi-million-dollar world-speed-record car, you can afford a hotel and a sandwich." But, the chance to be part of a world speed record attempt--even if it is just to remove sticks and rocks from the dirt--is a pretty romantic opportunity that doesn't just knock on the door every day.
Wales is looking to revive the spirit of the past in getting the public involved in his project. World speed record racing has been in his family for over 100 years, going back to his grandfather Malcolm Campbell, who christened the Bluebird name. On his record runs at the very same venue back in the first half of the 20th century, Sir Malcolm Campbell received the very type of help that Wales is soliciting now.
Those interested in helping can contact Rebecca Nicholls via [email protected] Everyone else can follow the team's progress at www.bluebirdspeedrecords.com.