View Full Version : Electric Flat Track Racing

27 April 2014, 1926
I just finished reading the May issue of Motorcycle Consumer News. On page 32 starts a two-page article about the longtime dirt-track motorcycle racer Preston Petty. The article covers his early life, his ISDT exploits during the late 1960's and early 1970's, his ultimately unsuccessful Pretty Plastics business and then goes into his newfound interest in electric motorcycle racing.

Petty is currently campaigning a 2013 Zero electric motorcycle in flat track racing. He reports that the blend of electronics and motorcycling makes for an irresistible challenge. Petty says that “It's interesting. We need to figure out what it does do well and what it doesn't do well and the improve on that. It comes down to energy density, gas versus electricity.” Petty reports that “the tuning of the Zero can make it more ridable, more tractable. Right now it is a bit squirrelly.” Petty says that they are trying to make the bike better emulate an IC racer. He describes an attempt at programming the throttle, including adjusting the power pulses to fine tune the torque curve to match track conditions, allowing a tuner to imitate a V-twin or an in-line four.

Petty reports that he generally sets his bike's regen to maximum. When shutting the throttle it helps to break the rear wheel loose and bring it around for the corners.

The article says that Petty is the only rider campaigning an electric motorcycle in flat track or dirt track racing that he knows of. Petty says that his team is the only ones racing electric at this time and “if you blow off everyone every time, you run the risk of being rules-restricted, powering down the machine. It is a fine line”. So it sounds like Petty is being cautious and is concentrating more on developing his racer and understanding what the technology can provide when racing on dirt flat tracks, rather than pushing the envelope.

The article concludes: “Competition breeds improvement and Preston thrives on innovation. Time will tell, but he's betting that electric racers are the future.”