Lincoln Electric Assists in the Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries

Don Garlits made history when he broke the 200 mph mark during a quarter-mile run in a dragster powered only by batteries that was fabricated using Lincoln welding equipment.

Drag racer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits made history on June 8 when he broke the 200 mph mark during a quarter-mile run in a dragster powered only by batteries.

Fifty years ago, Garlits entered the history books as the first drag racer to pass that speed in a quarter-mile strip. Garlits was also the first to hit 170 mph, 180 mph, 240 mph, 250 mph and 270 mph in a quarter mile. Now 82 years old, Garlits returned to the drag strip to make history again in the Swamp Rat (SR)-37 “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” Dragster.

The SR-37 is powered by a pack of 1,500 kilowatt lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries, which produces approximately 2,000 horsepower to quickly propel the car to 200 mph. A V-6 electric motor assembly was created by modifying six custom-built 7.5-inch series-wound DC motors.

“Although the chassis and basic running gear are built to current professional drag racing specifications, the battery-electric powerplant is entirely custom engineered and experimental at this power output,” explained Randy Cannon, the media manager for the project. “The battery array and motor configurations are extrapolations of existing engineering, but the size and performance characteristics are at least an order of magnitude beyond anything currently operating.”

Garlits didn’t reach this accomplishment alone. Creator of the Quest BEV (battery-electric vehicle) Dragster project Mike Gerry, top dragster builder Brad Hadman, and companies such as Lawless Industries, HighTech Systems LLC and leading welding company Lincoln Electric (Cleveland, OH) all played a role in the creation of this unique vehicle.

Hadman, who has been constructing dragster chassis for nearly 40 years, is a long-time user of Lincoln Electric equipment and employed a Precision TIG® 275 TIG Welder Ready-Pak®, a Tomahawk® 625 Plasma Cutter and VIKING welding helmets for the fabrication of the Quest Dragster. Lincoln Electric is no stranger to the motorsports industry or racetracks. The company is a proud sponsor of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

Garlits and the SR-37 team held a trial run April 30 on the quarter-mile dragstrip at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. During six test runs, the team hit 184 mph and even set an electric vehicle quarter-mile drag racing record with a shot of 7.53 at a speed of 178.42 mph. They didn’t hit the historic 200 mph mark that day, but noted they made significant progress and knew they weren’t far off from hitting their magic number.



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