Back to the future for electric speed record aided by precision hybrid ceramic bearings


Back to the future for electric speed record aided by precision hybrid ceramic bearings

Precision bearing specialist Carter Manufacturing played a pivotal role in the achievement of a new land speed record by the Drayson Racing Team 10 years ago.

The move toward greener energy solutions continues apace and the current development of electrically powered vehicles is a big part of today’s alternative sustainable energy revolution.  Whilst most attention is focused on the ‘here-and-now’ and the future, it’s interesting to look back at some important milestones and highlights as we move inexorably toward greener and more sustainable solutions.

One important highlight from exactly 10 years ago is the land speed record achieved by the Drayson Racing Team, recording a speed of 204.2mph for an electrically powered car in June 2013. This was achieved at the former RAF Elvington base in Yorkshire in a modified Le Mans car and resulted in giving electric powered motor racing a boost and improved credibility at a crucial moment.

An important contributor to this success was precision bearing specialist Carter Manufacturing whose outstanding engineering knowledge and experience proved to be pivotal in helping the Drayson Racing Team achieve this monumental milestone. Both Carter Manufacturing and the Drayson Racing Team are based in the heart of the UK’s specialist motorsports location in Oxfordshire, so were ideally placed to develop a successful collaboration at a time when the development of electric cars was in its infancy.

“The existing speed record of 175mph, which had stood for nearly 40 years, was smashed by 29.2mph!”

The project started when Lord Drayson, former science minister, businessman and racing driver, contacted Karl Brundell MD of Carter Manufacturing to request engineering and product support to achieve the goal of building the world’s fastest electric car. Lord Drayson was actually behind the wheel of the Drayson B12 69/EV electric Le Mans Prototype in near perfect conditions when the existing speed record of 175mph, which had stood for nearly 40 years, was smashed by 29.2mph.

Drayson commented at the time, “It’s not the outright speed of 204.2mph that is most impressive about this record, it’s more about overcoming the engineering challenge of accelerating a 1,000kg electric vehicle on a short runway over a measured mile”

“However, I’ve got a great team and world-class partners including Carter Manufacturing”.

Carter Manufacturing were crucial in helping to propel the B12 69/EV to its record by utilising hybrid ceramic bearings in the gearbox which helped to reduce starting torque, reduce fatigue, whilst also providing specialised support to members of the Drayson Racing Team for all their technical bearing enquiries.

Another example from 10 years ago (and a very different challenge compared to the Drayson project) but which also underlines Carter’s expertise in delivering outstanding bearing solutions, was their sponsorship of ‘Team Spitphya’ competitors in the popular Red Bull Soapbox challenge. In July 2013 Team Spitphya won the London Red Bull Soapbox Race, dubbed the ‘World’s wackiest road race’, held at Alexandra Palace in North London.

Competing with 70 other teams over a 430 metre course, Team Spitphya’s soapbox named ‘Phyabird’ was inspired by previous land speed record holders including Malcolm Campbell, John Cobb and Henry Segrave. The soapbox featured Carter’s high-end, low-friction bearings which proved to be a crucial component in helping the team succeed in the fun, yet ultra-competitive event.

Fast forward 10 years from these significant, yet very different ‘milestones’ in British engineering, Carter has expanded its range of precision bearings and tools which today are used in some of the most challenging applications across the globe. Their bearings are approved and specified into many other high-tech sectors including LNG commercial pumps for container ships, aerospace and space applications, high-end optical systems and military and defence applications.

As far as delivering bearing solutions for today’s motorsport applications, Carter has recently moved into NASCAR as a UK company proving to be successful in supplying teams in ultra-competitive US motorsport.

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