The SportElectric TT is the crescendo of Refuel – an electric vehicle event organized by Speed Ventures which has, over the past five years, allowed EV builders and owners to become intimately acquainted with the twists and turns of the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that sits just outside of Monterey, CA. With its burgeoning annals of participants, it has become a measuring stick for various sorts of battery-powered cars, motorcycles and (even) go-karts and their drivers.

There was also a huge surprise from the smaller machines.

Wonder if you are, indeed, the fastest Nissan Leaf driver that ever there was? You'd have to do better than the quite remarkable 2 minute, 2.883-second lap laid down by Nader Assemi in 2012. Think you might be channeling Ayrton Senna in the cockpit of your all-out, open-wheel racer? Last year's 1:32.046 – the fastest Refuel lap ever, bested only by Steve Rapp aboard the Mission R during a TTXGP race (1:31.376) – by Kevin Mitz in the Kleenspeed EV-X11 is the mark you'd have to beat to refute suspicions that you're delusional.

We fortunate enough to attend this year's edition, and while the best overall time was not beaten, new records were set in a number of categories and we gained a lot of insight into the comparative performance of several different vehicles. There was also a huge surprise from the smaller machines.
While Eric Bostrom easily beat out absolutely everybody aboard the Brammo Empulse RR race bike with a 1:38.502, when it came to the motorcycles in attendance, we were actually more interested to see how the production machines from the Zero Motorcycles and Brammo stacked up on the track. It was closer than we might have expected, and it seems the human element may play a strong role as these brands battle each other in future contests.

refuel 2013 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Shelina Moreda cleaned everybody's clock in the Production Bike class. She's an experienced racer who's really on her game right now. Aboard her Brammo Empulse TTX – a competition-oriented variant of the Empulse R – she did the deed in a scant 1:51.381. The next three places, however, belonged to riders on a DS, S and FX from Zero, Ian Lebov being the closest to Miss Moreda with a 1:58.351. To complicate the Brammo/Zero equation further, Kenyon Kluge completed the circuit in 1:55.684 on a Zero S with a larger controller to claim second place in the Prototype Bike class behind Bostrum.

Tesla Model S at Refuel 2013 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

In the rapidly growing Production class, Tesla Motors, of course, ruled the roost.

In the rapidly growing Production class, Tesla Motors, of course, ruled the roost. The place was lousy with the company's product. Wonderfully, wonderfully lousy. Eighteen examples, in fact, were entered into the competition, though half of those were in a special Tesla Employee class – the automaker didn't want to take the thrill of victory and resulting hardware away from its customers, and so the nine cars it brought had their own separate category.

So, what's the fastest Tesla? This year that title goes to the Model S by a mere two hundredths of a second. Aaron Bailey, a Tesla Motors Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, SCCA racer and racing instructor slung the electric sedan around the track in record 1:48.917, while Joe Nuxoll topped every other production vehicle in a borrowed Roadster 1.5 with a 1:48.937.

What's the the next-fastest production electric? This year, it was a Toyota Rav4 EV, which, perhaps coincidentally, sports a Tesla drivetrain and battery beneath its stealth, last-gen bodywork.

EV West BMW conversion at Refuel 2013 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

There were a number of electric conversions on hand for the Refuel event, but only a few attacked the asphalt during the SportElectric TT. And, while Jeff McCabe put down a respectable 2:12.003 in his lightning bolt-painted '84 Porsche 928, on this particular Sunday it would only be good enough for second place. That's because the EV West crew brought its bonkers BMW conversion out to play.

Now, we've seen this car before. Last year, with a rookie driver, it climbed Pikes Peak in less than twelve minutes. We've also watched it bring boatloads of joy to rally racer Bill Caswell during a little test drive. This time it was out to show off in front of its electric kin and show up the factory offerings from Fremont.

The organizers gave Bream a second chance, but his approach to the corkscrew proved too hot.

Unfortunately, driver Michael Bream had to settle for 1:49.036, less than a second behind the fastest Tesla. Yes, that put him at the top of his class, but he was still disappointed. He managed to catch up with a Model S on the last half of his hot lap and lost valuable seconds trying to get past it. The organizers gave him a second chance to prove what the '95 M3 could do, but on that attempt his approach to the corkscrew proved too hot, and he spun out, losing the opportunity for Tesla-beating bragging rights.

Electric go-kart at refuel 2013 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came in the smallest package. A gang of four go-karts, prepared by Bridge Service Motor Company using components sourced from Zero Motorcycles, put on an amazing demonstration of speed. Led by Marcos Ramirez with a 1:44.688-lap, the quartet were quicker around the track than anything else in attendance, save the electric racing Brammo of Eric Bostrom. According to Ramirez, he hit top speeds in the neighborhood of 115 miles per hour during the feat. How's that for cooking without gas!

Interestingly though, this is not necessarily a Refuel record for karts. Back in 2009, Ramirez circled the circuit in about 1 minute and 39 seconds in an even faster, albeit less refined, kart of his own making.

While we look forward to future SportElectric TT competitions, we can always relive some of this year's action (and so can you) by simply scrolling to the assorted examples of in-car footage from the event below. You can check out all the official times at the Refuel website.











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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      Richard Hilleman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hello Domenick, On behalf of the Rattlesnake Electric Sport EKart team thanks for the coverage. The Rattlesnake 2 has been the passion of lots of contributors, including Zero Motorcycles, Performance Fabrication, Bussing Machine, RES and Bridge Motor Services. It was our pleasure to take places 2, 3, 4, and 5, overall. With an equal number of practice laps, I would like to think we could have made it a even closer contest for the overall TT Win. Come see us race. We are building the grass roots of real EV racing every month, as part of the Saturday program for the Redline Oil Karting Championship at We are working to build the grass roots of real EV racing every month at Sonoma Raceway. We'll see you there. thanks again Richard Hilleman Principle, Rattlesnake Electric Sport
        DarylMc
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Richard Hilleman
        Hello Richard The karts were certainly a highlight of the article. Looks like you have a nice product there, best wishes.
      Dave D
      • 2 Days Ago
      Dominick, Thanks for introducing us to Shelina Moreda! :-) Oh, and great coverage of the event as well! I think I'm going to have to try and get out there for next years run.
      • 2 Days Ago
      Thanks for the coverage! It was a fun race indeed! One typo though; the first place production car lap time in a Roadster was 1:48.935 (not .937), a mere 18 *thousands* of a second slower than the Model S P85+ driven by the Tesla employee Aaron Bailey. :-) We'll get 'em next time!!
        Domenick
        • 2 Days Ago
        Joe, Both the spread sheet I have and the Refuel website say 1:48.937. I think you would have had it this year were it not for that Active E. Great lap with good video!
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Domenick
          I hate to be a stickler about 0.002, but my spreadsheet shows what's on the REFUEL website, and that's 1:48.935. I guess since my racing number is #2, those 2 *thousandths* of a second matter to me!
      Electric Examiner
      • 2 Days Ago
      Excellent job Dominick. I felt really torn this year, Pikes Peak 2013 or Refuel 2013? I'm glad you gave us a good account of the event. I was wondering why I didn't see Jeff McCabe's SportElectric TT at Pikes Peak!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like Mission Motor's record is safe by 7 seconds, unless Brammo can step up their game.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Domenick, Eric's last name is spelled BOSTROM, not "Bostrum". Thanks!
        Domenick
        • 2 Days Ago
        Thanks, Brian. My apologies, I believe I've made this same mistake before. Fixed.