Drag racing is going electric and to prove a point even Ford has built an all-electric drag racer – a 1400bhp Mustang Cobra Jet

Top fuel drag racing is popular across the globe and it's not hard to see why. Outrageous 8000bhp, nitro-powered dragsters can hit close to 400mph in a quarter of a mile, and watching them is something of a full body, physical experience. But it's also a sport that lends itself to EVs, and bit-by-bit, electric drag racing is catching on, with Ford even launching a purpose-built EV Mustang dragster...

When you think about it, electric dragsters make perfect sense. They don't require range (enough juice for a quarter of a mile is all) but they do need huge amounts of power and torque to go very fast, very quickly. And this instantaneous, mountainous power is something that EV powertrains are exceedingly good at.

It is not surprising therefore that the sport is beginning to catch on,and there are projects that could see all-electric drag racing join the various leagues and dragster types which compete across the world.

Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400

The fact that Ford Performance over in the USA has created a fully operational and track-ready EV dragster says a lot about how serious the sport could become. Based on the Mustang coupe, the one-off Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 delivers over 1400bhp of power and 1100lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. According to Ford, these stats should see it clear the quarter in the low 8 second range at a peak speed of more than 170mph.

To give some context here, the Bugatti Veyron, famed for its 1000bhp power, does the quarter in 10.1 seconds at 142mph. Even the Porsche 918 Spyder – a true hypercar – only just scrapes under the 10 second mark, achieving the distance in 9.7 seconds.

Back to the Cobra Jet 1400, and the car is very much the next level up from the Mustang Lithium which was unveiled at SEMA last November. That car was far more street orientated and had 'just' 888bhp, but its primary function was to test next-generation EV powertrain components. In the case of the Cobra Jet, the designers wanted to test both street- and race-spec components in a vehicle that the team was already well-versed at prepping for the track.

"This project was a challenge for all of us at Ford Performance, but a challenge we loved jumping into,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “We saw the Cobra Jet 1400 project as an opportunity to start developing electric powertrains in a race car package that we already had a lot of experience with, so we had performance benchmarks we wanted to match and beat right now. This has been a fantastic project to work on, and we hope the first of many coming from our team at Ford Performance Motorsports."

Unfortunately we won't get to see the Cobra Jet 1400 in action until later this year, but we look forward to seeing how the car performs!

Australian team goes big with 5364bhp dragster

Sometimes when we're writing figures that EVs are capable of producing, we need to do a double-take, just to be sure that we've got it right. Such is the case with the team at HyperPower, an Australian company that specialises in small, but exceedingly powerful 'eMachines' (aka electric motors). Called the “Quantum Force”, HyperPower calls the motor the “world's first extreme-duty eMachine”.

And the stats back that up. Each motor is capable of 1341bhp (1 megawatt) and they can be mounted in series on a common driveshaft. By stacking them in this modular fashion, it's possible to create a vehicle with multiples of that 1341bhp figure simply by adding more motors and, as a test bed for this, HyperPower has created an electric dragster with no less than four motors.

That kind of power output elevates the dragster essentially to the equivalent of the top table in drag racing – top fuel. HyperPower reckons that the car should be able to hit 330mph in 3.7 seconds. Their aim is to beat the current top fuel speed record of 380mph, which isn't wholly unrealistic as goals go. Moreover, if they don't do it with four motors, presumably they could just pop another one into the mix...

Intriguingly, HyperPower's Quantum Force motor is due to be used to power Elon Musk's Hyperloop system, as well as other light rail applications in the future.

Another home-built EV dragster of note

It'd be remiss of us not to mention Johnny Smith (motoring journalist, TV presenter and serial car bodger) and his infamous Flux Capacitor – a road-legal Enfield 8000 with somewhere north of 800bhp and 1200lb-ft. It's capable of doing the quarter mile sprint in 9.86 seconds at 121mph, and can do 50 miles on a charge.

The car is very much a labour of love to demonstrate that EVs can be fun, fast and interesting. It's especially noteworthy as the Enfield 8000, which was built in very small numbers in the early 1970s, was itself an EV. Part novelty and part reaction to the oil crisis, it was a two-seat city car with 8bhp, a top speed of 40mph and a range of around 35-55 miles. It was a total flop, but when you look at it through the lens of cars like the Citoren Ami One and all of a sudden it looks very much ahead of its time.

That being said, Johnny's Flux Capacitor does appeal to us rather more than the stock Enfield!


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