In one smoky run down the dragstrip on August 2, 1964, a young “Big Daddy” Don Garlits became the first drag racer to officially exceed 200mph in the timed ¼ mile. Garlits supercharged Top Fuel slingshot eclipsed the hallowed ¼ mile of asphalt at Island Dragway, NJ in 7.78 seconds with a high speed mark of 201.34 mph. The 200 mph barrier was forever broken. Garlits remarked that “It’s like being in another world”. Indeed he was…and still is. For nearly fifty years that mark has stood as one of the watershed events in drag racing history.
The drag racing world of rapid speed has always been one of internal combustion engines powered by dangerous chemical fuels. In the rapidly evolving transportation world of fuel-battery hybrid vehicles, fully electric vehicles, and a newly born E-racing series one must wonder; where is the next frontier of powered speed on the asphalt ¼ mile to be found. Can a dragster function as a symbol of current renewable battery-powered road travel? Even more so, can a dragster be the embodiment of the inevitable future of battery-electric, instantaneous power, highly-controllable, high performance automobiles?
Now fifty years after that milestone 1964 feat, a team led by respected dragster builder Mike Gerry is constructing the challenger to the next frontier. The sleek, night black, glistening arrow of high speed Quest Dragster is designed to break through the 200 mph using high-output battery-powered technology. The dragster is to be driven by none other than the original record breaker, Don Garlits. The Quest Dragster will combine a Brad Hadman dragster chassis design, state-of-the-art safety features, a slippery alloy body, and a distinctive high rear wing typically associated with high-speed dragsters. The driver will sit snugly in the tubular steel-wrapped cockpit with the difference in this drag machine nestled directly behind. Rather than the violently explosive nitromethane used to power a Top Fuel car, this rocket will be launched with the instantaneous power delivery of a 1500 kilowatt lithium polymer battery power system generating a maximum 3600 amps of electrical current and an equivalent horsepower rating of over 2000 hp! The powerplant will be completely enclosed in aerodynamic side pods and a motor shroud that is faired gracefully into the monostrut mast for the high rear wing. It is a striking masterpiece of brutish battery power wrapped in a beautiful and highly-efficient envelope of straight line speed. The SR-37 Quest Dragster will indeed challenge the future frontier of drag racing!
The “Quest for 200mph” team is preparing for the next step of this historic challenge. The rolling chassis, cockpit, and body are all constructed and complete. At its current home at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, the car has been fitted with its 2014 6-pack of record-attempt GE motors and Big Daddy has been fitted with his new custom Garvin Motorsports race seat.
The next step for this ground breaking project is literally, “power up”. The team is preparing to complete the assembly of the 2014 lithium-polymer battery power system and install batteries and motor control systems into the car. The team is using this step to create an opportunity for technology enthusiasts and drag racing fans around the world to be part of the Quest for 200mph on Batteries. Participants will provide a timely contribution to the completion of the car’s powerplant and the preparations for the history making 2014 anniversary dragstrip appearances. This opportunity will directly fund the advanced technology costs of the powerplant system.
The SR-37 Quest Dragster 2014 battery plant is being engineered and produced by Derek Barger of HighTech Systems LLC of Littleton, CO. The battery plant will consist of four (4) packs, (2) on each side of the car mounted in the distinctive SR-37 side pods. Each pack is comprised of 300 lithium polymer cells, 1,200 for the total powerplant. Those 1,200 cells must be selected for compatibility and maximum performance from a lot of over 3,000! The cells for each pack are assembled in a 12-parallel, 25-series configuration. The cells are built so that neither supplemental cooling nor heating is required. This system produces full power, on demand, at ambient temperatures. The cells are engineered for the rigor of this special project and are designed for utmost safety. Each cell is monitored with an HTS Battery Management System (BMS) that keeps them in balance and prevents overcharging. Each of the 1,200 cells require over 1 hour of intensive test and assembly labor, over (30) man-weeks of lab and shop time! The cells are screwed together for maintenance and replacement with 2,400 stainless fasteners. They are contained in a custom polycarbonate case selected for this specialized use and designed to prevent any track debris from damaging the assembly. The net weight of each small cell is 154 grams. The total weight of the 1,200 cell battery system including connections, hardware, and case is approximately 500 pounds; roughly the same as a fully equipped Top Fuel engine.
Each 105V pack is connected to the next in series for a total of 420V maximum and maximum current of 3,600 amps. The power is run through a 4/0 copper feeder cable, about 1" in diameter, and comparable to the cable size used for power equipment on a large office building! Current is distributed to large power relay contactors and then to 3 very stout – and appropriately named - Manzanita Micro “Zilla” 2k motor controllers. The throttle is three 5k “potentiometers”, fed to the “Zillas” at the same time, and controlling the massive power output to the 6 custom-built GE motors. This is, far and away, the most powerful battery package that has been produced for BEV racing. The completed HTS battery package will produce a power output of 1500 kilowatts - 1.5 megawatts if you prefer – an equivalent total horsepower rating of over 2000 HP!
The basic battery technology and motor/control integration has already been tested in an early configuration prior to full completion of the dragster (see video). The dragster launched very hard off the line with times comparable to a Top Fuel dragster, 60 feet in less than 1 second!
Derek Barger, HTS Principal, is enthusiastic about the future race worthiness of this type of mega-cell battery, “Tesla is producing their power system at about 1-to-4.5 (288HP from a 1,323 pound system). The power-to-weight ratio of the complete SR-37 HTS battery will be over 4-to-1 (2000HP+ from 500 pounds). HTS is producing a system that may be multiple generations of power output beyond the Tesla roadster. It is, quite simply, a very advanced technology. With adequate funding and continued development, it could move premier racing series’ into their futures, not to mention the potential for heavy capacity trucking, industrial and defense applications”
The HighTech Systems LLC SR-37 Battery Package is a very large powerplant, engineered and produced to propel the largest name in drag racing to 200 MPH in the 50th anniversary year of that first 200 MPH record run.
The technology awaits.
Let’s plug in and make it happen!
Risks and challenges
Again, the basic battery configuration and early motor/control systems were tested prior to full completion of SR-37. The 2014 battery package will employ the same basic configuration but with additional maintenance and safety features. After completion of the 2014 battery package, the team will head to testing in an incremental build-up to full 1/4 mile runs and deliberate sub-200 mph speeds. The dragster will then be prepared to break the 200 mph barrier and...to explore its next frontier.
Stick your favorite colors with the complete Eric Reyes-designed Quest sticker collection with (1) large 6"x11" Quest profile logo sticker, (1) large 6"x6" Quest nose logo, and (1) small 2"x2" Quest nose sticker, all printed in full color on high-quality UV resistant vinyl
Grab the Quest Swag Bag including:
• Kickstarter exclusive 16x20 poster featuring the “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” logo • Kickstarter Exclusive 100% cotton t-shirt featuring the “Quest for 200 MPH on batteries logo in full color on back and Reyes profile logo on left chest. Sizes available M-L-XL-XXL • 2-sided “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” challenge coin • The complete Eric Reyes-designed sticker collection with (1) large 6"x11" Quest profile logo sticker, (1) large 6"x6" Quest nose logo, and (1) small 2"x2" Quest nose sticker, all printed in full color on high-quality UV resistant vinyl. BONUS- Don Garlits photocard from Lincoln Electric featuring fine art rendering of SR-37 by the famed Kenny Youngblood
The Quest Club- This pledge is an opportunity for your name to ride permanently on the cowl of SR-37. Your name (or company logo) will be placed at approximately 3" x 8" on the front cowling of the dragster, between the cockpit and the front wheels. Personal names will be in gold leaf lettering. Too cool! You will also receive a limited twill Quest Dragster team jacket with embroidered logos front and back PLUS, the full Quest Swag Bag described above!