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Destler’s Need for Speed: The E-Dragster Race

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Bill Destler sees the need for speed. So going zero to 60 mph will take on a new meaning at this year’s Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival.

RIT’s president has modified his Green Vehicle Challenge into an electric-vehicle drag race. Thirteen teams will put their hot rods to the test in a 100-meter race. The racetrack will run through parking lots G and H and kick off the festival at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 5.

The sole energy source for the E-Dragster Race vehicles must be from an electric chemical battery. Vehicles must not be constructed from the chassis of a commercial vehicle but can contain various components from a commercial vehicle. The total track length will be 300 meters and vehicles must have a braking system for a safe stop.

So what prompted Destler to create the drag race? “First, to provide a motivation for new vehicle designs based on different criteria (from past Green Vehicle Challenges). Second, to dispel the myth that electric vehicles are glorified golf carts and cannot perform at the level of gas-powered cars. We want to encourage our community to look into alternative transportation concepts that would be greener and could potentially reduce our dependence on imported oil.”

If nothing else, compared to traditional high-octane racecars, this may be the world’s quietest drag race.

Destler, a Chevy Volt owner and former electrical engineering professor, doesn’t think he has the inside track on winning because of the talent across campus. The winning vehicle will receive $1,000 or an antique banjo from the president’s collection. “I am confident I will lose, as I do each year,” he said.