Racing Chevy Bolt EV in Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational

Racing Chevy Bolt EV in Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational

EV-MODS earned an opportunity to display our 2017 Chevy Bolt EV at the 2019 SEMA Show and an invite to the www.driveusca.com Televised Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational.

 

The www.semashow.com SEMA Show is the pinnacle event of the Automotive Aftermarket. The industry only show had an attendance of 175,000 automotive industry professionals. By winning round #1 of the 2019 www.driveusca.com Ultimate Street Car Series; and coming in 2nd at AutoClub Speedway in CA; we earned an invite to display our Bolt EV in “Optima Alley at the 2019 SEMA Show”

We test all the modifications we sell for the Chevy Bolt EV; so all parts are available on www.ev-mods.com . We brought our Chevrolet Bolt EV to the big show and OUSCI with the following Mods

SEMA Show 2019 Crowd

One of the most rewarding experiences of SEMA week was seeing the reception and attention around the out Bolt EV by SEMA Show attendees. The car was parked next to incredible vehicles; however the uniqueness and EV technology proved to be an exciting talking point for many. It helped that Chevrolet High Performance was debuting a prototype crate EV Package that was featured in their booth at the show that utilizes the Bolt EV Battery, Motor and a custom ECU.

*Chevy C10 Powered by 2 Chevy Bolt EV Motors

The Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational Vehicles have the privilege of leading the www.semaignited.com parade / event that immediately follows the SEMA Show. This is a chance for both attendees and fans to watch all the cars pull out of the SEMA Show along with some great side shows from Formula Drift, Freestyle Motocross and more. I must have been mocked 15 times over the parade round with “rev it up”. With no engine noise to compensate; I amped up my 800 watt subwoofer blasting some Techno. See the Video Here.

 

 

At the conclusion of the Parade route I moved the car over to the free level 2 charging at Circus Circus to prepare for Saturdays Racing.

The Ultimate Street Car has 5 segments each worth 500 pts.

  • Design and Engineering: What did you do to make your car better
  • Autocross: Timed technical segment to test handling and car control
  • Speed Stop: 1/8 mi drag race with a hairpin and turn into a stop box.
  • Hot Lap: Time attack on full track – fastest lap
  • Road Rally: Drive on Public Roads to prove your car is “Street Legal” and “Streetable”

Build Strategy: The Bolt EV’s 201hp and FWD puts it at less than half the horsepower and half the drive wheels as most my competition – Tesla Model 3 Duel Motors. Playing on the Bolt EV’s 800lb lower weight; I built an excellent Design and Engineering Car and Autocross Car. Theoretically If I scored well at those two segments and made it through the road rally (I daily the car 80mi a day so no problem); I could stand a fighting chance being competitive with the Teslas.

My 235/40R17 tires reduce the top speed of the Bolt to 90mph; however increase acceleration substantially. I nerded out on some math and came to the conclusion I would be faster around the Las Vegas Motor Circuit with the improved acceleration of the smaller OD Falken Tires. In theory the autocross would never see speeds over 88mph (It did) and neither would the Speed Stop (it did). Suspension was tuned for AutoX as well with the Stiff BC-Racing Coil Overs, Rear Sway Bars and added rubber spring stoppers in the rear; the car could easily generate oversteer off-throttle.

Competition: 6 Electric Vehicles qualified for the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational; however only 4 of us made the trek to Las Vegas. To help the EV class grow; I had invited my friend Mark Gearhart in his Tesla Model-3 to an earlier round at Auto Club Speedway in California; where he barely beat me. Following Autoclub Speedway; he got faster, and added additional mods beating me good in his 2019 Tesla Duel Motor. Another top competitor in a Tesla Model 3 Duel Motor from the East Coast John Laughlin ended up winning the EV Class aand the OUSCI event. He was a top SCCA Driver in a very sorted Tesla Model 3 Duel Motor. The last was an impressive Tesla Model X P100D driven by Karen Thomas.

 

Charging Strategy: Despite averaging over 220mi on a full charge on my daily 82mi round trip commute; my Bolt EV peak power output drops from 160kw to 146kw below a 80% full charge. That is a huge amount of power loss; even if I get faster at the timed segments, the reduced power makes it very difficult to improve on a time over a day without recharging to over 80% Full.  

Experience at other events taught me autocross has minimal battery drain and I can usually make all sessions at over 80% charge without recharging. Las Vegas Speedway allowed us to use their 220v camping chargers to keep me over 80% through the Autocross and Road Rally Day. A full charge overnight and back out to the track for Sundays segments.

During the Road Course and Speed Stop Segments I anticipated skipping a few sessions to recharge to over 80% using the onsite level 2 chargers. Unfortunately this was a huge issue; I only got one segment completed with over 80% Charge. The nearest “fast charger" was a 35 min drive from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I ended my 2nd road course segment at 50% Charge with peak output down to 138kw peak power. I was a bit drained myself attending SEMA for the previous week and ended my day short with only two timed road course sections despite this being my favorite part of the events.  I was not out of charge; but at 50% had no chance of beating my best times.

 

I usually score very well in Design and Engineering. From an overall perspective the OUSCI is the best of the best and I did not expect to score as well as regional events. In my EV Class I did expect do to well. I had a more modified and more thought out EV than my competition. Many USCA competitors have vented frustrations of the judged D& E segment through the years. I think it is essential to the series to ground the cars as real streetcars.  I usually hold my head up high and accept my score. At the OUSCI D&E Judgine that took place in Optima Alley at the SEMA Show I was very tired, it was over 90* at 3pm on the last day of SEMA. Despite the environmental conditions I thought I spent my designated 4 minutes speaking very well about my Mods; after all we are EV-MODS. Unfortunately; the Judges scored John Laughlin’s Model 3 significantly higher with 41 vs my 32.. . I did manage 2/4 in D&E in the GTE class. I cannot logically explain how John scored higher, but he did and likely had a great delivery from his earned shady spot (for winning the GTE Series Points) under the Optima Trailer. In hindsight I realize how foreign the Bolt EV was to the Judges; who were not EV enthusiast and likely never seen a Chevrolet Bolt EV before. I should have spent more time on every modification to the car vs extended time on the modifications that I thought needed more explaining. 

The OUSCI Autocross was a very unique layout; with a short traditional technical section at the begining and then incorporated 1/3 of the big track. They layout reduced my potential to score well a vehicle with more-power could overcome a better handling car. This also caused me to drop below 80% charge after 3 runs; however using Level 2 between runs I had all the power the car could make. Unfortunately even in the Autocross I got my butt spanked by the Model 3’s but managed to beat a P90X and a host of other amazing ICE Cars.

The Speed Stop is where the Bolt's 200 HP; possibly the lowest HP car in the entire field and FWD configuration really hurt. I still managed to be faster than a few ICE cars but was nearly last in the segment. I made a few great hairpin turns and braked as late as possible into the Stop Box; but this segment is really about acceleration.

The Hot Lap is my favorite segment. A former Shifter Kart Racer; this is where I feel most comfortable. My choice to focus on acceleration through smaller diameter tires was a good one. My lap times were faster than my previous time on the same course at Rd#1 with the Bolt EV. My previous best lap on the same circuit with taller final drive ratio and 245/45R17 tires was 2:11.42. With my 235/40R17’s I managed to shave more than 3 seconds off the time for 2:08.249. This was impressive considering my top speed was 90 mph on a track where high horsepower cars; including the Tesla’s, were hitting 130 mph. My fastest lap was recorded during the first session with a full charge. You could really see my lap times dropping through the day as the charge dropped below 80%. I beat a significant number of ICE cars. I got very few clean laps in due to the nature of a timed event and having a low horsepower; great handling and braking car. In this video you can see a classic Fastback Mustang with fully independent rear suspension and over 700hp was slower than my Bolt. Unfortunately in my class you are only allowed to pass on a straight after the leading car gives you a pass by signal. Being slow on the straights and fast through the turns and braking makes it difficult for leading drivers to let me pass on the straights where they are faster; despite my car being faster around the entire course. You can see In the video I was being held up and could have posted a faster time in other circumstances. 

 

Conclusion. The Ultimate Street Car Series www.driveusca.com is very fun. It is a great honor to qualify for the Invitational and see the series on TV. I achieved a great goal qualifying for the Chevrolet Bolt EV for the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational with such a unlikely car. I was pleased to have a chance to work with great sponsors to develop performance products for the Chevy Bolt EV. Having now competed in the OUSCI in 2 underdog, under powered cars (previously Ford Focus non turbo); I look forward to contesting a new build in the future that has the potential to win overall. To Be Continued in 2021.