Crescent Electric Supply Helps Build Fastest Battery Powered Dragster

Crescent Electric Supply Company has contributed six custom GE motors to the “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” Dragster project. Driven by legendary drag racer, “Big Daddy” Don Gartlis, the Quest dragster attempted to be the first battery/electric dragster to go more than 200 miles an hour.  You can see the Crescent Electric logo on the side of the dragster.

Crescent announced on its Facebook page that it delivered the GE motors to Shawn Lawless and Lawless Industries, which designed and built the 6 pack motor assembly that went into Garlits’ dragster.  It is designed so each motor will generate more than 200 horsepower and push the dragster to 200 mph is six seconds.

In early runs, the dragster proved nearly as quick as a top-fuel dragster, and the energy cost per pass is about 25 cents compared to about $5,000 for a nitro-powered dragster.

Garlits turned 82 this year, and is still involved creating race cars and wanting to go fast. The team broke the official battery-powered car record in the quarter mile. “It was 156 mph in 7.95 seconds. I set the new record at 184.01 mph in 7.258 seconds, with a backup run of 178.42 mph in 7.526 seconds. This was a very good test, as the car was brand new,” Garlits said in an email message. “We learned a lot.”

Donna Garlits, the youngest of Don’s two daughters, and the general manager and chief financial officer of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing Inc. south of Ocala, said everyone considered the day of testing a success. On the final run, Donna Garlits said the parachute did not deploy and Don ran off the end of the dragstrip.

“We were screaming, ‘It didn’t come out, it didn’t come out,’” she said. “I saw it run off the track and there was a puff of smoke. It went through a fence and wound up in a recently plowed field. I was crying. My son, who is part of the crew, was distraught because he’s a father figure to him.”

She said when the crew got to the car, Don’s first words were: “I guess I need a tow rope.”

“He was cool as a cucumber,” she said. “He’s fine; the car is pretty much fine,” she added. “We’ll figure out what’s ahead and get better and try again for 200 (mph). That car can definitely do it.”

According to Cannon, the car’s team hopes to set the 200 mph speed mark this year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Don Garlits’ historic first official 200 mph pass in 1964, in a top-fuel dragster.

“The first run was at 30 percent power and it went 129 (mph), which is pretty strong. Most electric vehicles don’t go much faster than that. At 50 percent, it went 151 mph. At 100 percent there was a power decline, maybe a controller issue. It didn’t seem to get up to full power.”

Don Garlits stated that the team is “trying to get the Tesla Car Co. involved, as they have access to lots of technical information.”

“They had a Tesla car there that was very impressive, a stock vehicle that ran the 1/4 mile in 13.13 seconds with a 105 mph, stock off the showroom floor. I enjoyed driving the Tesla car,” he wrote in his email.

Cannon said the Quest Dragster will be thoroughly gone over to determine if there is any damage from landing in the plowed field. He said the batteries would be fine as they are encased in Plexiglass but that the motors and chassis and other components would be “torn down” for inspection.

Cannon said the team will still try for the 200 mph record as soon as possible.

“That will depend on Don’s schedule. He’s busier than everyone; at his age,” Cannon said.

Garlits is aiming for a re-try in a few weeks.

“We did not reach the desired goal of 200 mph, but will return to the strip in June when the modifications have been made to the car that will improve the performance,” he noted.

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