Pikes Peak has always attracted adventurers, whether they be mountain climbers or race car drivers. Ten years ago, Elias Anderson and Anthony Applewhite floated the idea of building a Pikes Peak electric race car. Such a vehicle takes time and money, and it wasn’t until this year that they brought their concept to life. It was a made scramble to build a complete electric race car in just a few months, but they brought the HCE Lightning to the Peak, beating out professional race outfits and conversion shops on their way to a 3rd place finish in the EV class.
“I give Anthony full credit with coming up with the challenge of building a Pikes Peak electric race car,” Elias says in an email. “Anthony, after attending a large dirt track race with us, came up with the idea of combining his knowledge of batteries, electric motors and controllers with my ability to fabricate and drive.”
Elias has been building and racing in many different motorsports since the early 90s, including stock cars, sprint cars, and open wheel modifieds. After attending the 2002 Pikes Peak event and seeing a handful of EVs make an attempt at the hillclimb, both Elias and Anthony resolved to develop a purpose-built electric racer to tackle Pikes Peak.
Yet with large families and full-time jobs, it took Anthony and Elias nearly ten years to secure the funding, time, and parts to build their EV. But Anthony, with his knowledge of electric motors and contacts, was able to secure the option to buy batteries, a motor and controller contingent on their acceptance into the 2012 Pikes Peak competition. They were officially accepted in January of 2012, and the mad scramble to get their EV race car together began.
While we have covered the efforts of teams like EV West and Monster Tajima, Elias and Anthony worked under the radar. Elias worked with Jay Novak to secure an American-made Formula F600 tubular frame chassis to serve as the basis for their EV race car. All the other components, including the batteries, motor, and controller, were also built in America.
Yet many of these components, including the batteries and motor, did not arrive until the 11th hour. This led to a bit of a mad scramble (that was eased somewhat by a delay in the event caused by the Colorado wildfires), but eventually Elias and Anthony, along with longtime crew chief and family friend Ryan Amey, were able to get their EV racer together in time for the event.
For a couple of unknowns, Elias’s EV racer (Dubbed the HCE Lightning) did exceptionally well on the hillclimb, coming in third place in the EV class with an impressive time of 11 minutes even. This time was just 45 seconds behind the EV class winner, a team backed by Toyota Motorsports, and 30 seconds behind the Mitsubishi-backed team. If you’re not impressed by that kind of performance, well, I don’t know what to tell you.
But Elias and Anthony aren’t done yet. “I enjoy designing, building and racing cars regardless of the power source,” says Elias. “I am a racer, and I happen to believe that a EV will hold the PPIHC overall record sometime in the near future. Anthony and I would like to be the team that sets the record and brings the EV record back to the USA.”
Yup, I think that about says it all.