Race Report: eMotoRacing at Willow Springs, April 25-26, 2015

It was an exciting weekend at Willow Springs with AHRMA and eMotoRacing with our biggest grid of electric competition to date with 7 bikes total! Our three rider team consisted of Brandon Nozaki Miller, Jeff Clark, and Nathan Barker, all on their Zero SRs. Other competitors included Arthur Kowitz on his streamlined Brammo Empulse TTX, and Pete Nicolosi and Murrae Haynes on their Empulse Rs. We were also surprised and happy to have our good friend Doug Smith from Seattle joining us on his custom Zero Supermoto. We realized the competition would be close against the Empulses with Haynes and Nicolosi. And Smith is a fearless and fast rider with a light and powerful machine, but we knew from the start that if we were going to win this race, Kowitz was the man to beat. He has a couple of years of development into his bike and we could tell he'd been busy in the off-season with some new upgrades. Willow Springs is a fast track, which is especially challenging for Electric Motorcycles because higher speed requires more power which will heat up your battery, motor and controller quickly. Winning this race will involve more than just the rider's skill on a bike, the rider will need to be smart about thermal management over the course of the 8-lap, 20-mile race. Saturday was a particularly windy day, blowing all the racers around the track, and Kowitz opted to remove the fairing from his bike rather than risk getting blown away. All the bikes performed well in the cool weather during practice with our racers on their Zero SRs reaching speeds of nearly 130 mph on the front straightaway. Clark's liquid-cooled system was keeping his motor temperature down while Miller's air cooling was proving adequate in the chilly weather. Even Barker, on his completely stock Zero drivetrain was able to get in a couple of laps before hitting any thermal cutbacks. The eMotoRacing class ran in a second wave of silence in Race 2, just behind the roar of the Thruxtons and the pinging of the two-strokes. Into Turn 1, Kowitz pulled to the side with some sort bike issue while Clark, Miller and Smith all battled for the lead position. It was an exciting race to watch as the electrics caught up first to the two-strokes and finally to the Thruxtons, who started nearly half a lap ahead. Clark maintained the lead for the majority of the time, with Smith and Miller occasionally pulling ahead. Everyone ran a flawless race and Jeff Clark took the win followed by Smith and then Miller with Nicolosi, Haynes and Barker behind them. Unfortunately Kowitz was unable to finish the race due to an electrical failure. On Sunday, a windy morning turned into a warm afternoon on the track. We were feeling confident and welcomed Kowitz back on the track after his successful morning testing session. But things don't always go according to plan when it comes to racing, and there were no shortage of surprises in this one. Even before the flag dropped, Kowitz pulled into the pits with continued electrical issues. Miller's race came to an early end in the second lap as he took turn 5 a bit wide and ended up in the dirt and then in the third lap the race was red-flagged after Smith high-sided, turn 5 strikes again. The race restarted three riders short with Kowitz, Miller, and Smith out, and we wondered who would have the edge with the batteries partially drained and the motors and controllers all warmed up. Barker took the hole-shot and led for the first lap and a half before the bike started to lose steam. Clark then overtook him and maintained the lead, increasing the gap as he held the bike at full throttle. We though for certain he'd be taking the checkered flag, but in the second to last lap he began to lose power and as he passed the white flag, indicating this would be his last lap, he was not speeding through the straightaway as fast as we expected and we could see he was starting to lose power. As Clark went into Turn 9, the very last corner of the race before the finish line, he took a wide line as he tried to draft one of the Thruxtons to the finish line and Nicolosi saw his opportunity to pass Clark and beat him to the finish line. Overall it was an exciting weekend and we had a great time hanging out with everyone who joined us! Special thanks to Arthur Kowitz for organizing the eMotoRacing class, we're looking forward to a rematch at Sonoma in a few days time! Thank you to all race fans and Hollywood Electrics supporters who came out to watch this weekend. Thank you to our sponsors Zero Motorcycles, digiNow, Nate's Fine Foods, CaliPhotography, EnerBee, AXO and Lindemann Engineering. Our next race event is coming up this weekend, again with eMotoRacing at Sonoma Raceway. Practice in the morning, racing starts at noon. We hope you'll join us! eMotoRacing April 30 – May 1, 8am-4pm Sonoma Raceway 29355 Arnold Dr Sonoma, CA 95476 http://www.racesonoma.com/ Enjoy the Ride, Harlan Flagg

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