Attention electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts! The Refuel 2015 date has been announced, and so it's time to check out what's on this year's battery-powered high-speed agenda.
What's the best way to spend a summer day in California? If you're an electric vehicle enthusiast, there can only be one answer: the annual Refuel event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This is the second year I've been fortunate enough to attend – thanks to an invitation from Speed Ventures, the outfit behind this battery-powered extravaganza – and both times it's rocked my socks.
The faded blue eyes of the corner worker lit up and his tanned face, furrows plowed deep by the California sun, cracked a bemused smile as the Brammo Empulse RR, like a yanagi blade taking a sliver of sashimi from a fresh fillet, smoothly sliced its way through the corkscrew. Minutes earlier, I'd overheard his thin lips spit out a lament about racing without its traditional sonic hyperbole. Though his judgment about the electric competitors might stay unchanged until his last breath, it seemed i
"I think we could do something, although I tend to show not tell."
Refuel is back for 2014 and so is TMC Connect. This year the two events have logistically coordinated to make the July 18th weekend quite possibly the most electric ever.
The Tesla Model S is not a track car. Yet, when we watched it make its way around (the very awesome) Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the 2013 Refuel Sport Electric TT, we couldn't help but be impressed that the electric passenger sedan, penalized by more than 4,600 pounds of curb weight and rolling on street tires, could lap the course in just over a minute and 48 seconds.
I was making soul-swapping deals with whatever entity might be listening as we entered the very first turn.
You know what's a lot – a lot – of fun? Racing. You know what's really expensive? Also, racing.
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.
For a car that Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne still doesn't sound enthusiastic to sell, the 500e sure is getting a lot of official company support. Despite this year's admittedly-limited production run already being sold out, the company continues to promote the values of the improved (in my eyes) battery-powered version over its gasoline-burning sibling.
For each of the past four years, Refuel has crowned a new record setting electric vehicle when it comes to a record-fastest lap at its Clean Power Motorsports Event. And with more than a few Tesla Model S EVs now floating around California, here's guessing this year will be no different.
Three years ago, when the very first Refuel event was held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, it was a relatively small affair with a smattering of vehicles in attendance. With the fourth edition of this electric vehicle-centric happening now complete, it's amazing to see how much has changed. And, how some things haven't.
There are lots of fringe benefits to building or buying an electric vehicle. While eliminating the need to visit gas stations probably ranks at the top of our list, a close second might be the opportunity to run hot laps at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during Refuel. Hosted by Speed Ventures, this event also offers competitive types the chance to win SportElectric Time Trial trophies.
Kleenspeed West WX10 at Refuel 2010 – Click above to watch video after the break
They're doing it again! Last year at the famed Laguna Seca circuit, Speed Ventures hosted Refuel, a gathering of alternatively fueled vehicles that culminated with the SportElectric TT. The chance to take private electric vehicles onto the track (for free!) and do some timed hot laps proved popular enough that this July 11th, the event will go sophomore.