Schaeffler Group is an incredibly large automotive components conglomerate. It owns companies which produce everything from tires and belts to wheel bearings and EV motors. It is also title sponsor of the Schaeffler Abt Audi Formula E team. As a way of activating that sponsorship, the team built a wild all-wheel drive Audi RS3 race car powered by four Formula E electric motors, one for each wheel. And the team has given Daniel Abt carte blanche to race it in reverse.
Abt has, in recent weeks, raced his Schaeffler 4ePerformance Concept against high powered Porsches and Lamborghinis, and simply emerged victorious thanks to all-wheel traction and nearly 1200 electric horsepower. The car is electronically limited to 130 miles per hour, but it can reach that top speed in under 8 seconds, easily out-accelerating even the quickest of supercars.
One interesting thing about electric motors, they work to exactly the same efficiency in either direction, meaning that they produce nearly 1200 horsepower and a 130 mph theoretical top speed in reverse as well as forward. Abt takes full advantage of that to break the world record for driving in reverse. Prior to this stunt, the record allegedly sat at 100 mph.
If you’ve ever attempted a J-turn—sometimes known as a Rockford—you know how unstable a car can be in reverse, and how easy it is to upset the balance by just a small movement of the steering. With the steered wheels on the “back” of the car, your level of control is significantly reduced. As you can see in the video, Abt doesn’t even do the over-the-shoulder look to see where he is going, simply piloting by mirrors alone. I’m a little freaked out just thinking about it.