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On November 16, 2013 the Vector race car established itself as the world's fastest electric powered model car with a speed of 202 MPH at the AMRCA tether car track in Seaford, New York. A week earlier, it became the first electric powered model car to break the 200 MPH barrier, with a run of 201 MPH. It has since then achieved a speed of 210+ MPH.

 
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE VECTOR ELECTRIC TETHER CAR



George and I have been involved in tether racing since the early 70’s, designing, building, and running gas powered cars in a number of different AMRCA classes.   Six years ago, George asked the question “Why not an electric tether car?”, and our reply , “Why not?”


The 2007 Green Machine

Our first project “The Green Machine” turned out to be very ambitious, and many hours were spent working in CAD and 3D Modeling programs. This was strictly a “back burner” project, so there were a lot of more important things to get in the way, and slow down progress. Three years went by before any actual parts were made. During the period of 2010 – 2011, all the parts were fabricated, but to this day, remain unassembled due to a few unresolved aerodynamic issues, and the thought to move forward with a more conventional design, the Vector.


 The VoltsWagen

In order to “fast track” the development of the new electric tether car, we decided to try to gather as much information as possible by using an already built 3.5cc gas powered car called the Ramrunner. The Ramrunner was designed and built by us years ago, and was meant to be an entry level, open-wheel, gas tether car. It is very simple in design, and was easy for us to convert to use a small, but powerful electric motor.The initial results were far beyond our imagination, with the car turning 150mph lap speeds within the first few test runs.

Now, we were confident that a purpose built, closed wheel electric tether car would be a worthwhile project. To further test the idea, we took the small motor out of the VoltsWagen, and installed a motor similar to the one we were planning to use in the Vector. Late in the 2012 season, the VoltsWagen, powered by a 1500 series Neu motor was turning consistent lap speeds over 170mph. Time to jump into the Vector project with both feet!


The Vector


The Vector started with a clean sheet of paper, and the idea of packaging all the components into as small of a chassis as possible, without sacrificing function. We had already decided that the body would be a scaled up version of the VoltsWagen body, due to the success of that car. We had started working on the Vector design on our computers right after the early tests with the VoltsWagen, so by the end of the 2012 season, we were beginning to order parts. The overall engineering time for the prototype was about 8 months of almost full time work for both George and I. George concentrated on all of the electrical, and electronic aspects of the car, and I worked on the mechanics. Since everything had to fit together at the end, there was a lot of design interaction.

By July I was heading to New York to get away from the Arizona sun, and to do the final machining, assembly, and testing of the Vector prototype. Since we are planning to sell completed cars and parts in the future, many of the parts were ordered in quantity from outside vendors. My work in NY mostly consisted of machining the cast pan, and assembling, and testing the prototype Vector.

The first test run was on October 13, and was a half throttle run, just to make sure everything checked out OK. After the run (top speed was 128mph), I noticed a slight bright spot around the inside of the outboard wheel hub, and suspected the batteries were leaning over and touching the wheel due to the centrifugal force. This was proven out in our second run of the day, a full throttle run, in which you could hear the motor laboring as the car hit 160mph.

A week later, after extensive work to stiffen the battery supports, and one year to the day from the VoltsWagen becoming the World’s fastest electric tether car at 170mph, we were ready to try again. On October 20th the Vector did not disappoint us! The run produced 184mph lap speeds, eclipsing the record set by the VoltsWagen a year earlier.

On the 2nd of November another test run was made using a different Neu 1530 motor. This motor would produce higher rpm per volt, and it sure did. The car accelerated crazy fast, but the motor was drawing too much current for our setup, and the controller shut the system down to protect the batteries.

As the New York weather was getting colder, we thought that  November 10th would be our last test of the year, so back to the original motor. Programming changes were made to the controller and we hoped that a few miles per hour more could be squeezed out of the system. I remember day dreaming that the Vector would do 190mph. How cool would that be!

Well, it did not do 190mph as I was wishing for, instead, the car flew past that speed, and became the first electric powered model car in the World to break the 200mph barrier. What a rush that was! Although I didn’t push the timer button during the best 8 lap period, we caught a solid 200mph run, and reached 201mph lap speeds at the end.

The weather gods were kind, and we had one last opportunity to run the Vector a week later. Only 1mph was gained, but additional data was logged that will help us analyze the performance over the winter months. Due to safety requirements, having reached 202mph, we will run on a heavier cable next season. I’m sure that will drop the speed down some, so we will be digging deep over the next three months to do our best to get back to the 200mph mark next season.

Throughout the entire Vector testing program, AMRCA President Nick Tucci served a crucial  part. His help is so greatly appreciated by both George and I. We would also like to thank Peter Greenfield of Greenfield Industries for his support, and the use of his machine shop during my time in New York.

Roger Phillips
Vector Racing