The grueling race up Pikes Peak is one of the most notorious road races in the world, and this year a 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf made history as the first winner of the Electric Production Class. ?Driven by veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion Chad Hord the Leaf completed the run in only 14 minutes 33 seconds.
The Leaf was virtually stock except for interior safety modifications and more aggressive wheels and tires.? It even had a better time than several competitors with highly modified internal combustion engines.?
The race is run on a 12.42-mile course with 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak. ?As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength. ?The thin air also robs internal combustion engines of up to 30% of their power at the summit but the Leaf?s electric motor is not impacted by the altitude. ?It produces the same amount of power at the start and the summit.
The Leaf runs in near silence with the only sound being the squealing tires and the high pitched sound of a warning beeper installed at the request of the race organizers to warn spectators and workers. The Leaf comes from the factory with a pedestrian warning system that is active up to about 30 miles per hour but since it was traveling much faster on the course a supplemental system was a good way to warn those along the course that it was approaching.
?The Leaf was great fun to drive up the mountain? said Hord. ?With the instant torque from the electric motor we were able to jump out of the many slow corners and the performance was very consistent from the bottom to the top since the electric motor wasn?t affected by the high altitude near the summit like the gasoline powered cars.?
Since the competitors can only practice a third of the run at a time during the week leading up to the race, today was the first time Hord had completed the entire race distance in a single run. ?The Nissan Lear and Chad both performed flawlessly this week? said Ron Stukenberg, senior manager, Marketing Communications, Motorsports. ?This was an innovative way to demonstrate that 100 percent electric vehicles perform very well in highly demanding situations like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.?