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Electric Westfield sprint racing update.


johnev
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Last October the MSA issued the 'Hybrid & Electric Cars: Guidance for organizers of Speed events'. This document outlines the MSA safety requirements at such events and is to be welcomed. Before this, EV sprint racing in the UK was effectively uncontrolled and potentially dangerous.

EVs permitted to race are either series production vehicles or Formula E cars. Other EVs including mine, must be individually approved by the MSA. To support this process I must produce a technical reference document detailing the cars high voltage electrical and battery safety systems and also prepare suitable risk assessments. I will submit the car and its documentation to the MSA for approval as soon as I can.

Preparing the car and it's documentation is the easy bit - relatively. Each event organizer must also have written approval from the MSA to permit EV racing. The MSA guidance covers the provision of risk assessments, battery fire fighting equipment, separate and marshaled charging and quarantine areas, EV safety training for marshals and electric vehicle safety processes in general.

Persuading event organizers to satisfy these requirements just to allow one car to compete will be a challenge. However, I have had expressions of support from across the racing fraternity and with the help and good will of the MSA and the WSCC, I hope at least one event will accept an entry from me this year - in July perhaps.

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Having had basic high voltage EV safety training at work, dealing with an incident is really very different to conventional ICE.

Marshals would needing specialist kit and training would put some smaller venues off I guess. Having seen the GT hill climb incident with Richard Hammond. 

Interested to see how you get on.

Andy

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Thanks for the update John,  as Andy said the Hamster's crash was a big wake up call to the whole Sprint & Hillclimb scene. It has certainly caused very significant problems for the club that allowed him to run in that event, full details of which are awaited. But sufficient information has already come out to make everyone realise just how serious running these cars is and the potential implications in doing so.

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Anyone watch Formula E at the weekend? Cars crashed - no fires. My car had a huge crash - no fire. Point is that if the battery has been designed for racing, as mine has, or has been through the very extensive crash and fire testing required for road cars, fires due to accident damage are very unlikely. The Hammond crash involved a one off prototype vehicle - I wonder if it would have passed such tests.

Perceptions are important but we must get to the point where we have an informed understanding of the actual hazards and risks associated with series production EVs and appropriately designed and built electric race cars.

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It would be a massive shame & a big loss to the varied and interesting entries at sprints if you were unable to compete John.

Good luck, hope to see you out on track.

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3 hours ago, johnev said:

My car had a huge crash - no fire. Point is that if the battery has been designed for racing, as mine has...

Hi John,

Out of interest and curiosity, can you share details of your battery and how the design differs for racing.

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The battery is segmented into 4 cell modules. Each cell module is built into a sealed aluminium casing and mounted inside the undertray housing. Thus, the cells are protected inside a double skinned, water tight and fire-resistant box. Internal structurs ensure the cells can't move and are separated by polycarbinate insulators. A full battery management system (BMS) ensures the cells never exceed unsafe voltages, temperatures and load conditions.

My battery was designed back in 2010 and was originally intended for racing applications. Only 7 Sport E cars were built so crash testing the batteries was out of the question on cost grounds alone. Instead a lot of effort went into making the design as robust as possible. During my crash the BMS ensured that the battery system was switched off and electrically isolated before the car came to rest. During the rebuild the batteries were stripped down and checked but no damage was found. The batteries are now reassembled and still working in the car 2 years later.

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John

Surely the MSA (or other regulatory bodies) need your extensive background and first hand experience to help bring this class of car into competition in the most sensible and practical ways possible?

You would certainly get my vote and be a respected and knowledgable voice for the cause of the cars of the future?

G

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