Anything shaped like an old Porsche is bound to grab my attention, but when it’s powered by electricity I’m cutting a bee line to go see it. This all electric 911 Pikes Peak racer really grabbed my attention ahead of the event, but it absolutely blew my mind when I first laid eyes on it during the Fan Fest on the Friday evening before the race. It’s got a really unique layout that I’ve never seen used on an electric car before.
(Full Disclosure: Acura brought me to Pikes Peak to watch two NSXs, an RDX, an MDX, and Peter Cunningham’s TLX race cars run up the mountain, as well as eat and stay free of charge.)
Christopher Lennon had won his class at Pikes Peak before in this car, back when it was powered by an aircooled flat six gasoline engine. Deciding he needed a new challenge, Lennon teamed up with Zero Motorcycles to engineer a solution to make the 911 electric.
This is one of the many great things about Pikes Peak. When you set out to build something that only has the purpose of going fast up a mountain, they’ll pretty much let you race it. This is among the last run-what-you-brung races in the world. There are no BoP regulations, no rulebook for engine restrictions or limitations on creativity. If you can build it, and get it to pass tech, you can probably race it.
This is the part that blew my mind. Taking the stock pistons and cylinders off of the center section of the engine case, the engineering team for this car developed a chain-driven crankshaft that slotted into the stock Porsche main bearings and provided a chain-driven central shaft for six individual Zero Motorcycles EV motors to sit. All of that is mated up to the standard Porsche transaxle. How cool is that?
So, with a few hundred horsepower of EV propulsion slung out back, and the weight of the batteries largely held inside the wheelbase, the car is pretty damn quick, and relatively light weight. It was entered in the hill climb as an exhibition class car, qualifying a few seconds ahead of Fumio Nutahara’s Time Attack 1 class track-prepped Nissan Leaf. Officially, the car qualified 44th of 58 cars.
Because Pikes Peak runs cars from fastest to slowest, Lennon’s start time was already scheduled to be quite late in the day. With a few hours of delays on the hill, the mid-afternoon rain was threatening the car’s ability to put down a decent time. Indeed, the rain came and it was nasty. Ultimately, because of inclement conditions at the peak, the race was forced to run a shortened course. Cutting the top half of the course out, Lennon still had to run in nasty rain, but managed to set a time anyway.
Of the cars forced to run a shortened course, Lennon finished 6th. His official time is a 5:12.386, which doesn’t really mean anything. And because the weather was all over the place around that time, it hardly counts for a real comparison. I’d guess Lennon will be back with the car next year, and it’ll probably be the coolest car racing then, too.