For safety, the car is fully compliant with the FIA’s Formula E criteria. Despite this, the car was unable to make runs at FD Long Beach. This came down from the Long Beach Fire Department which was not equipped to handle the particularly dangerous elements that come with a high-powered electric vehicle. However, this past weekend at Orlando, the car was able to make a pass as seen in this video recorded by FD judge Ryan Lanteigne.
Short of the motors and batteries, which are located under the hood to comply with FD rules, the chassis is all Camaro. Fellow FD driver of SLR Speed, Chelsea Denofa, helped develop the control arms while BC Racing stepped in for coilovers. “We are keeping to what’s commonly known in FD,” says Joe Napoleon. “There is no excessive suspension geometry and the weight distribution is similar to other cars in FD.” This car is right on par with the overall weight in the neighborhood of 3,000 pounds, and with 800 pounds of batteries in the nose, EL1 has 51-49 weight distribution.
The EL1 and the Napoleon Motorsports team are breaking all kinds of barriers with this new build, yet their philosophy behind it is sound. “We take this first time out as a very big responsibility not only to the safety of the drivers but the safety of the fans,” says Joe Napoleon. “Being a racer myself, I know what it’s like to bring experimental stuff into a series, and it’s really awesome to have a series that’s open minded to that. But there’s a big responsibility to put the driver’s minds at ease. Let’s face it, none of us really know what it’s going to do so we are kind of like the Mythbusters.”
This project also helped rewrite the rules in FD’s rulebook to accommodate for an EV drivetrain. “All of the drivers are just as interested as we are,” says Travis. “FD likes it and are welcome to us. We were pretty transparent with them. We worked with them, they worked with us.” As aforementioned, the team was unable to run the car at Long Beach but brought the car out to Orlando last weekend for some practice. Unfortunately, during practice the car was developing some intermittent issues and the team chose to pull Travis’ S13 240SX out to run instead. In the Top 32 he ran against Ryan Tuerck and his Gumout Toyota FT-86. During his chase run Travis straightened out in the center section of the track and on his lead run he over rotated, putting an end to his race weekend.
Like it or not, the electric future of motorsports and transportation is drawing closer. Sure, it’s really weird to see this, or even the E-COPO Camaro do their things with no engine noise, removing a key sensory element of motorsports, but we are hard-pressed to not be intensely curious about the ingenuity, creativity and engineering behind cars like this. Stay tuned to HotRod.com to see how former FD Pro 2 champ Travis Reeder does behind the wheel of the Napoleon Motorsports Camaro EL1 in the 2019 FD season!
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