Ultra4 introduces spec EV off-road racing class at King of the Hammers
The racing organization will provide 11 teams with an EV crate powertrain and let them do with it what they will.
Emme HallFormer editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
We have electric F1 racing, electric off-road racing, electric rallying and now get ready for electric rock crawling. At this week's King of the Hammers, racing organization Ultra4 Racing announced a spec EV class that will begin in July. Upon launch, 11 of the most innovative Ultra4 teams will duke it out for electric supremacy.
Each team will be provided with an EV crate package from Dana and Hypercraft. The 250-kilowatt motor provides 335 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of rock-smashing torque. Each team will receive four 10-kWh batteries and will be able to build a rig of their choosing around these powertrain elements. Expect to see side-by-sides or trucks with either solid front axles or independent suspensions. Yukon Gear and Axle will be there to assist with drivetrain development while Holley/AEM will provide racers with controllers and other electrical components. Dana will also be on hand to assist teams with the electric motor.
Dana thinks the teams will get about 40 miles of range out of the combined battery packs, but assuming 1 mile per kWh over the rocky terrain found in King of the Hammers races might be a little optimistic. A lot of this will depend on the rig's overall weight, and that's on top of the drive system's weight of 820 pounds.
The first three races will run short courses where on-site charging won't be necessary (hopefully). However, the crate powertrain's batteries are designed to be swappable so longer-mileage runs could be in store for future races. Regenerative braking is programmable so drivers can dial in how much they want to use for one-pedal driving and putting more juice back into the batteries for more range.
Thus far only one team, led by Kyle Seggelin, has competed in King of the Hammers in an EV. Last year the team brought a garage-built Toyota 4Runner with a Nissan Leaf powertrain to the Everyman Challenge, completing 91 miles of brutal course in 7 hours, 42 minutes and 9 seconds.
"I think this is an awesome progression in EV racing," Seggelin said. "I like seeing other people getting involved and not just talking about it."
Seggelin will be racing in the EV class against other King of the Hammers stalwarts including eight-year veteran Bailey Campbell (one of the few women in Ultra4 racing), 2018 national points champion Chip Gilbert and eight of the most innovative Ultra4 teams competing today. The first race will be in July in Attica, Indiana.