Tech problem again scrubs speed record attempt

Saturday, May 7, 2005

WEST WENDOVER, Nev. -- A British team's attempt to establish a new speed record for electric-powered vehicles was scrubbed Friday, the second day weather and technical problems foiled efforts.

The record attempt was scrapped because of a problem in the drive controller, the unit that controls the vehicle's electric motor, team members said. Engineers determined the onboard electronics were getting soaked in condensation after they moved the car from a warm garage to a damp, cold stretch of Nevada highway.

Driver Mark Newby, 46, walked away in disbelief after his second attempt failed. "It's just one of those things -- never get involved in cars," he said.

The team is trying to eclipse the record for an electric car weighing more than 2,200 pounds by using a vehicle with 52 batteries and no mechanical gears. Nevada agreed to shut down Route 93A for the torpedo-shaped car's attempt to top 300 mph -- which would shatter the old mark of 245 mph, set by an American team in 1999.

Team members planned to ready the car for one last attempt at the record today. They wrapped a critical component that sends battery power to the car's electric motors to keep it warm and dry until race time.

The forecast called for sporadic thunderstorms.

A street-car-racing group was arriving for a race Sunday on the same closed highway, and the British team said it was running out of money to extend its stay.

Gusty wind and battery problems on Thursday delayed the group's first record-breaking attempt.

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