Published on March 24th, 2018 | by Jesper Berggreen0
Electric Drag Racing With True Cousins — The Cars
March 24th, 2018 by Jesper Berggreen
This is the second of two parts about the cousins Hans-Henrik Thomsen and Glenn Ellegaard Nielsen and their amazing efforts in electrifying the sport of drag racing. They have built and driven battery-powered vehicles for drag racing since 2007, resulting in 7 — still standing — world records with 4 different vehicles: 2 motorcycles and 2 cars.
They call themselves True Cousins, and I reached out to them after seeing their performance at the track. Being totally astounded by the extreme contrast of their powerful machines compared to the usual loud combustion-powered drag racers, I just had to learn more about their work.
Glenn Ellegaard Nielsen has the pleasure of driving the cars, and please be warned: the following contains mind boggling numbers!
In 2011, as the cousins were busy building the motorcycle Silver Bullitt, the dream of a car became a reality too. They named it the TC9 Hornet, and the design was inspired by the British Eagle SS which was based on an American kit car called the Cimbria, which itself was based on the earlier Sterling, which in turn was a copy of the British Nova — got it?
Although it looks very similar, the TC9 Hornet is actually the predecessor of their current breed, TC-X. The TC9 is a real street car and they actually tried to license it for road legal use, because that would make it easier to attract potential sponsors.
In the first three seasons starting with 2012, TC9 Hornet and Silver Bullitt shared the battery pack. They changed the battery pack back and forth between the two vehicles — quite a hassle and not something that could be done in minutes. The TC9 Hornet still holds a world record in Extreme Street 300V of 7.01 seconds at 1/8-mile.
TC9 was quite heavy. The total weight of the chassis was 360 kg, of which 250 kg was very thick fiberglass. The bottom frame was made out of 90 kg of iron.
After setting 2 World Records (in the 240V and 300V classes) and claiming 2nd place in the Denmark Quickest Car (DHB) 2013 edition, the fast times had outrun the TC9 as the chassis construction — built for the road — simply wasn’t strong enough to go any faster than 6.40 seconds in 1/8-mile according to safety regulations.
At first their idea was just to build a cage for protecting the driver, but this would only be legal down to 5.5 second runs. Instead they decided to literally build a whole new car based on the old one. The intention was to build a car so extreme that it would become the world’s quickest Doorslammer (full-bodied racing sedan replica). And since 10 follows 9, the car was named TC-X. X-treme machine indeed…
They liked the shape of the TC9 so much that they decided to cast a new body for the TC-X based on the TC9, but in a much lighter version using 2 mm fiberglass. That would prove to be tremendously difficult. The full body was divided into 4 casting molds supported by a steel frame. These molds were joined into one mold and the new body was cast. 3 guys worked 10 days to get it right.
With a new Chrome-Moly SFI approved frame built by All-in Race Cars, the chassis total weight got as low as 90 kg and got approved for 7.5 seconds at 1/4-mile and 4.5 seconds at 1/8-mile runs. It was equipped with 2 x 11” motors, 2 x Zilla K2 controllers, a 1.6 MW peak battery pack, and a proprietary integrated battery management system (BMS).
The TC-X was ready for the 2015 season, but it took some trial and error to get the car to perform properly. It actually went off-track at DHB and it took a while to repair it. However, in 2016 it made the first record run in 5.12 seconds at 1/8 with a top speed of 225 km/h.
TC-X got new and larger controllers and extra battery capacity in 2017.
TC-X Specifications 2015:
Chassis: Seamless Chrome-Moly SFI approved (has to be approved every two years)
Body: Eagle SS design 65 kg handmade fiberglass/carbon composite
Motors: 2 x 11″ forklift series nominal 72V
Voltage: Max 400V
Battery pack: 1600 HP (TC design + BMS)
Controller output: 2 x Zilla Max 1200 HP
Weight: 850 kg
The motors are the century-old graphite commutators type. They weigh 100 kg each and are joined in parallel with a motorcycle chain with direct transmission to the drive shaft. No clutch. One motor is from the old TC9 and the other is new. At least 10 motor components are heavily modified. They were originally made to produce 10kW at 180A. Now they are applied at 350V and 2000A for a few seconds, resulting in a total of up to 1,400kW raw power and 4000 Nm of combined rotor torque.
The electric cables are of a rather small dimension to save weight (35 mm2) and they reach 70°C in 7 seconds and would melt in about 30 seconds. Power loss in the cables are about 50kW, but the excess weight in thicker cables would undermine the potential power gain.
The maximum output from the battery pack is about 1.6MW, but since the motors are stressed to the maximum, their efficiency drops to about 75% and thus the battery power translates to 1600 HP output from the motors.
The controllers have been able to produce an output of 1,200 HP, but during this winter they have been modified to produce up to 1,600 HP, promising a very interesting 2018 season!
1/8-mile: 5.74 sec.
Speed at line: 208 km/h
Best 60”: 1.43 sec.
0-100 km/h: 1.5 sec.
1/8-mile: 5.12 sec.
Speed at line: 223 km/h
Best 60”: 1.26 sec.
0-100 km/h: 1.3 sec.
1/8-mile: 4.89 sec.
Speed at line: 233 km/h
Best 60”: 1.20 sec.
0-100 km/h: 1.1 sec.
Goals for 2018
These guys mean business for sure, and I asked them about their specific goals for the comming season:
“Every year we try to get faster and faster to improve our records. Competition against ICE cars and motorcycles are limited to a few events like Denmark’s quickest car (DHB), as the sport isn’t quite ready yet for this kind of thing apart from some of the slower classes or as show driving (it’s a conservative sport).
“We should be able to make the TC-X even faster without big changes. If the Guinness world record plan goes well with the motorcycle Silver Bullitt, we might try that with the car as well. We are attending events at Malmø Raceway, probably also DHB, and we hope to race one of the 1/4 mile (402m) tracks somewhere in Europe in late summer.”
It actually looks like they will get their chance at the 1/4 mile at Mantorp Park in Sweden in July. Here’s hoping they leave the dinosaurs in the dust!