Posted March 8, 2019
In case you have been following us on social media, or in case you don’t want to read the whole story below, here is the summary: We are done racing in Australia for this time. We set a new Australian record for electric motorcycles at 216.199 mph (347 km/h) (pending ratification by DRLA). Not the fastest we have ever gone, but the main purpose this time wasn’t to set a new record, but to re-invent the wheel! We had very successful testing of the new “KiWieels”, and as icing on the cake we brought home another “Red hat” to the collection thanks to the 200+ mph record. We have also decided to officially retire the KillaJoule, and start building its successor “Green Envy”, with the goal of 400 mph! Stay tuned here (and on www.facebook.com/EvaHakanssonRacing) to learn how you can get your name on the world’s fastest (electric) motorcycle!
Bill and I can’t thank our Australia crew enough: Steve Lovell, Amy Elliott, Sam Elliott, and Kel Grayson. You are a real dream team!
Here is the whole story from the 2019 expedition to race at the Lake Gairdner Salt Flats, South Australia (originally posted on facebook). If you want the story in chronological order, start reading the posts from the bottom of the page.
Posted March 7, 2019
— New record. Red hat. End of an era. Start of a new era. —
It’s a wrap! We are done racing at Lake Gairdner in South Australia. It has been an exciting day, and I will try to summarize it. We started the morning with a nice 236.546 mph (380.6 km/h) run in a 15 mile cross-wind and securing a record above 200 mph and thus a new “red hat” from the DLRA 200 mph Club. The bike ran great and could have gone much faster, but the still crosswind pushed me to the left of the track and I didn’t want to be the one running over the last set of functioning timing equipment. I made an executive decision at mile 4 that 236 mph was fast enough for this time and I aborted the run. Keeping the shiny side up is always my number one priority.
There are four measured miles from mile 2 through 6, and you have to backup a record with the same measured mile. Because my fastest speed was in mile 2-3 yesterday, I had to match it with mile 2-3 today, which was significantly slower than mile 3-4. The result was a new Australian record at 216.199 mph, instead of something in the 226 range. But, it is still a record and I am happy as a clam. The 236.546 mph also made me the “Fastest Lady of the Lake”, which brought me a nice trophy (I wish it came with cash, but it certainly doesn’t).
Coming back from the record run, the entire crew was totally beat. It was a nice cool day, but it has been a long week. However, we couldn’t leave without trying the rear KiWieel. The team made a huge effort and changed over to the rear KiWieel in no time. We drove down to the starting line and back to see if we thought there was any chance the rear suspension would hold up for a solid wheel. It all looked great, so we made it back in line for a first KiWieel drive wheel run.
The KiWieel run was interesting, to say the least. The traction forward was great and it accelerated like it was on its rubber tyre, but the lateral stability was quite poor, so I was sliding back and forth like a pig on ice (this is something I will ask my students at The University of Auckland to work on 😉 ). I aborted the run at 100 mph, went back to the pits, and things were to get even more interesting. I thought I had heard some rattling sounds, so the crew took off the bodywork to see what had loosened up, and half my rear fender was missing! This is a 150 mm by 400 mm piece of aluminium, and would definitely hurt to run over.
When you lose pieces on the track, you immediately have to report it over the common radio channel. If it is a large piece, they close the track until the piece has been found. Long and behold, my fender was indeed on the track and had been passed by two other bikes already. Even more interesting was that it was rolled up and had tyre tracks on the _inside_. The fender had apparently come loose, I had run over it, and that had rolled it up (you can see it in the photos below). If I had had my normal pneumatic tyre that I had run on just hours earlier, it would most likely been cut open and blown up, sending me either airborne or sliding on my side.The KiWieel saved me from possibly crashing at land speed racing for the very first time! This clearly shows the increased safety of the non-pneumatic tyres, and definitely crowned this week’s experience. Green Envy will definitely run KiWieels! Even if I will make sure to inspect the fenders more closely for stress corrosion cracking next time, it could have been somebody else’s fender.
While the broken fender marked the need for a new era of tyres, it also marked the end of an era – KillaJoule is now officially retired! She is exactly 9 years old (we cut the first steel tubes in March 2010), and she has lived a hard life. Multiple things have broken this week (all three fenders, for example), and there are likely stress cracks in vital components that cannot be seen. She is due for retirement. When she gets back to Auckland, we will strip her on useful components (the entire power train, for example) and clean her up for display. Not sure where she will end up in the end, but we will keep her in the garage for reference and measurements for the next year.
Safety was our number one priority this week, and we are delighted to report that the entire incident record contains the following three events:
– Eva scraped off some skin on a finger by hitting a tube end while unplugging an electric plug.
– Amy got a knot on her head from being hit by a fibreglass radio mast snapping off by a wind gust.
– Sam cut his finger on the plastic clip on an ice bag.
Tomorrow is packing day, and hoping we can keep our safety record through that and through the drive home. We have had a very successful week, and the crew has been absolutely outstanding!
The DLRA puts on a fantastic event, and this will definitely be our new home track. Now I just have to raise the funds to build Green Envy and get back here next year. That overall motorcycle record is waiting to be beaten by an electric vehicle! 😀 Stay tuned here and you will soon learn how you can get your name on Green Envy, and be part of history.
Posted March 6, 2019
— Into the 200s! —
We had a great day at the salt today. Quite windy, but much cooler. We had to forfeit backing up our goofy 166 mph record run from yesterday for some needed maintenance and upgrades. We went back to the regular rubber tyre on the front, and with some clever outback engineering (which included stealing bolts from the container mezzanine) the crew managed to install the new Ohlins shocks in the front.
The new shocks gave a much smoother ride and better handling. We also installed the KiWieel on the sidecar. We are going to run all three wheels, we just won’t do them all at the same time.
Because I haven’t raced with DLRA before, they wanted to see a successful parachute run before I was allowed to open full throttle. I was speed limited to 200 mph, and I ended up running an average of 212.552 mph (342 km/h), which was close enough to keep the race director happy. That is also qualifies for a record that is worth backing up, so we will be in line first thing tomorrow morning trying to set an Australian record above 200 mph.
If we can get a record in the book, we will install the last KiWieel – the rear wheel. We ran the sidecar wheel today, and it worked great. I did discover that three sections of rubber hadn’t cured correctly (I had my suspicions because the resin had absorbed moisture), and one nubbie was lost and several were worn. All other sections were perfect, just like on the front wheel. Kel replaced the damaged sections (I luckily had exactly three spare ones), and we will run it again today. Correctly cured, this rubber is clearly good enough for 200+ mph, which is more than halfway to the target speed of 400 mph.
So, in conclusion, we had a great day. The team is starting get into sync and I fear that I will soon be redundant. Fingers crossed for an equally good day tomorrow.
P.S. If you are a facebook contributor and can’t find your name on the large “Supporters 2019” sticker on the tail, check out the sidecar photos. If your contribution came in too late, you ended up with the major contributors on the sidecar instead. If you can’t see your name there either, please send me a message – there could have been a glitch in the name printing list. I will write you in with a sharpie, and I will apologize sincerely.
Posted March 6, 2019
— KiWieels for the win! —
An exciting day at the track today, and lots of good data on the “KiWieels” that is my official research project at The University of Auckland.
It was a really stormy night and we all woke up to a huge lightning strike, which caused even more timing problems, but by noon, the track was back up and running. The cooler weather was certainly nice, and we were excited to make our mandatory 175 mph “brake chute run” where we had to show the race director that the brake chutes work as expected.
Well, I didn’t get to that speed before the brake chutes released themselves at 133 mph due to vibrations. Even with the new upgraded suspension from Öhlins Racing AB, the bike just isn’t designed well enough to handle the solid front wheel. The handlebar, which holds the pneumatic switches for the brake chute system, vibrated so violently that both switches were set off and the chutes were launched. Definitely a bummer. I didn’t even make it to the measured mile.
Back to the pits for suspension adjustments, and some tape on the switches to make them less sensitive. The second run was much better, but the vibrations were still severe. I exited mile 3 at 188 mph, with an average speed of 166 mph. Again, a disappointment, but still a perfectly safe run. Anyway, 166 mph is a record qualifier since the class record is open. We may opt to back it up tomorrow just to ensure a spot in the record book. A record always makes the crew and sponsors happy, and I think it would still be the fastest electric motorcycle in the southern hemisphere (but I could be wrong).
Driving back to the pits, I noticed that the motor cooling indicator light went out. Everything else worked fine, but it made me concerned. I pulled over, Bill jumped out of the support vehicle, and we concluded the the pump had indeed stopped. Running without motor cooling is a big mistake, so the trusty old tow strap was brought out. It is always embarrassing being towed back, but rather that then burning out the only motor we have here.
We assumed that the vibrations had made a wire come loose somewhere. Troubleshooting revealed that it actually was a problem with the charging of the 12 V battery that runs the coolant pump and other support systems, and it was easy to fix. It should not give us any grief tomorrow, hopefully.
Back to the KiWieel – it worked perfect! After two runs at 133 mph and 188 mph, there is no sign of wear on the “nubbies”. All screws (hundreds of them!) stayed in place perfectly. We are very excited, because I was worried that the rubber hadn’t cured correctly. The steering worked well as well.
We will put the regular front wheel back tomorrow morning, because KillaJoule just isn’t designed well enough to handle the non-compliant tyre. Instead, we will install the KiWieel on the sidecar and try to post a better speed. If all goes well, we will probably install the rear KiWieel later tomorrow. The goal is to run all three wheels, although probably not at the same time this time.
Bedtime here now. I had to name myself “The Cranky Boss” this morning, and I will try to not repeat that tomorrow. It was cold and raining a bit this morning, so was hanging out in the warm truck while our awesome crew cooked breakfast. I fell asleep, and when I woke up, the bike was out and the pits were set up. The crew had voted to not wake me up…. I don’t take that as a compliment so I will try to get more sleep and be happier tomorrow.
Posted March 4, 2019
— Busy day at the salt —
The track is always busy on the first day, and this year was no different. However, adding to the difficulty was timing equipment problem. The organizers believe that a distant lightning strike traveled through the salt and fried the timing equipment just after lunch. They had to replace all the timing equipment which took several hours.
We were in line at 10:30 AM, and should have been made it to the starting line just after lunch. But with the timing equipment down, we were still in line at 3 PM. The good thing with the long wait is that I managed to get all the facebook supporter names placed on the sidecar. (Photos below). We finally threw in the towel and decided to work in the pits instead. We fitted the new beautiful new shocks from Öhlins Racing AB and the front #KiWieel. We were amazed that it all just went together like it was made to! We were prepared to cut and weld to fit the new shocks.
We had originally planned to keep the regular front wheel and just upgrade the shocks, but the shocks wouldn’t fit with the wide rubber tire, but they would with the KiWieel. So we picked the easiest solution and install both new shocks and wheels. The KiWieel looks gorgeous and is certainly attracting a lot of attention. All high-speed racers struggle with tires, so they are really curious to see if this solution will work.
We have an incredible crew here! The front wheel swap and suspension upgrade was completed in less than two hours, that is amazing fast considering that things were rusty and it basically a complicated 3D puzzle where everything has to go together in the exact correct order.
Just when we were done, a big storm came it with a bit of rain and a lot of flying salt. We scrambled to get it all packed away so the bike and charger kart wouldn’t be filled with salt. A bit of drama occurred when our 10 meter army surplus fiberglass radio antenna snapped in half by a gust and fell into the pits. Luckily, everybody is OK.
We are all ready for tomorrow morning, and planning to get on the track early to get a good shakedown run before it gets too heat again. I am very excited to try the Öhlins suspension and the new KiWieel. The suspension should make the bike ride much, much, better, but the solid wheel will cancel some of the benefit. I am very curious to see what the result will be.
If you haven’t followed all our updates, here is the crew lineup for this year’s race:
Eva Hakansson (that’s me – the person writing all these updates
Bill Dube’ – my lovely trophy husband. Mechanical engineer and PhD in physics. Retired from NOAA.
Steve Lovell – crew chief and safety officer. Manager in the road construction business in New Zealand.
Kel Grayson – Royal Air Force engineer from Adelaide, Australia.
Amy Elliott – PhD in mechanical engineering and 3D printing expert at Oak Ridge Laboratory.
Sam Elliott – Amy’s lovely trophy husband. Former launch manager in the automotive industry.
P.S. The satellite broadband is working well and we expect to get online every evening. If you want to send a message to someone that is here, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will relay it to t
Posted March 3, 2019
— Passed technical inspection with flying colours! —
Another incredibly hot, but productive day. KillaJoule sailed through the tech inspection, which is a big relief. Cooler weather is on its way, and we are hoping to make a first run tomorrow. The goal for this week is not to push any limits and set new big records. Instead, the goal is to learn the logistics, try out new wheels (and perhaps chutes), and collect data for suspension.
The salt is gorgeous, and the event is incredible well organized. People are very, very friendly, and we feel very welcome. I think we may have found our new home track, despite the expensive and challenging logistics.
Since the communications are very limited here (we are on the satellite connection, thus the low resolution images), we just want to tell everybody that everything is going well at the DLRA 2019 event. Most people appear to be through tech inspection, and there will be a long line when the track opens tomorrow morning.
If you are one of our great facebook supporters and don’t see your name in the photo below, don’t worry, the last names are going on the bike tomorrow.
Posted March 1, 2019
—- Grand arrival at Lake Gairdner! ——
Both the KillaJoule and I made a quite grand arrival at Lake Gairdner yesterday. The KillaJoule container arrived on the largest truck I have ever seen in person, and I flew in directly to the salt with a local air charter.
The bike had traveled perfectly! Everything was in place, and no dust or dirt had managed to get into the container.
The biggest challenge this week will be the heat. It is _insanely_ hot. It was 48 degrees C on the salt yesterday, and almost 50 on the dirt. Just drinking enough is a challenge in itself. Luckily, the forecast promises lower temperatures after the weekend.
Today and tomorrow is setup and tech inspection. We will get it done, but won’t move any faster than we have to.
Posted 1 March, 2019
—- Made it to Whyalla! 2 out of 3 legs done! —-
This is probably the smallest commercial airport I have ever flown into. Quick outfit change to get ready for the desert climate. It is currently 40 degrees C (104 deg F), and that is insanely hot! It’s like walking inside a sauna. #DLRA2019 #KillaJoule #EvaHakansson #DryLakeRacersAustralia
Posted March 1, 2019
—- First leg completed! —-
Arrived in Adelaide just moments ago. Realized during the flight that the movie about Bruce McLaren perhaps wasn’t the most suitable inflight entertainment for me, considering that he was killed in a race car testing accident. Oh well, it still was a very good movie. Also, a lot has changed since then, with modern safety equipment he probably would have walked away.
Next leg is with a small regional airline, and I am excited to fly in a SAAB airplane. SAAB is Sweden’s pride, but as far as I know I have never flown in one.
#DLRA2019 #AustraliaHereWeCome #KillaJoule #EvaHakansson
Posted 1 March, 2019
—- The adventure begins! —-
My sidekick Mini-Eva and I are at Auckland Airport, ready for the adventure to begin. A bit of a bump in the road occurred last night, when I discovered that my connecting flight from Adelaide to Whyalla mysteriously had been cancelled. I have no clue why. I had no other option than pull out Plan B – my trusted old credit card.
Unfortunately, it was near midnight and I was fairly cross-eyed, so I apparently slipped in the dropdown list and booked a flight for the wrong month. Being non-refundable, I just had to book another flight with the correct date. Hoping that REX Airways will take mercy on me and refund me; I could find better uses for those AU$150. :-S
Posted February 28, 2019
— Last minute fixes – new brake chute done! —
With 10 hours until departure to Australia, I just finished making a new brake chute for the KillaJoule. It is designed by my students and very clever and innovative. The first test will be to haul it after the truck connected to a load cell. If it looks promising, I might take it for a low speed run. I will share it with you as soon as I have some good photos.
Only thing left now is to make the last die cut supporter names for the bike. If you want your name on the KillaJoule, you have about 30 minutes to show your support. After that, your name will end up on the Green Envy instead. https://scienceenvy.bigcartel.com/…/help-us-get-eva-and-the…
Posted February 28, 2019
— KiWieels arrived!—
The last two #KiWieels for KillaJoule have safely arrived in Australia! Many thanks to the Metal Magician Lachlan at Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland for working around the clock to getting them ready on time! Can’t wait to have that rubber hit the salt – it will either make us legendary, or make us look like total fools….. I would prefer the former, but I think the reality will be somewhere in the middle. #FlatOutIntoTheFuture #DLRA2019 #KillaJoule #EvaHakansson #ReInventingTheWheel
Posted February 27, 2019
— It is getting real! Australia, here we come! —
My lovely trophy husband Bill and the KillaJoule Crew Chief Steve Lovell (pictured) have arrived in Adelaide and picked up the “mine equipped” truck, or ute, as they say in Oz. Off-road camper trailer is next. This is certainly an expedition!
The #KiWieel sidecar wheel and front wheel arrived to Adelaide today as well. It is really awesome to have a crew member – Kel Grayson – stationed in Adelaide. There are always some last minute shipments that need to be taken care of.
I will take off from New Zealand on Friday, but until then I am slaving away at the Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland preparing for the academic semester that starts on Monday. 🤓 Because I have all the documents, itineraries, and contact information, I am also coordinating some of this from my desktop in New Zealand, acting as mission control. Quite amazing what you can do with instant messaging. Maybe I can get a cool job at NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration after this…?