Cox races electric car at another SORC in western Nebraska



  • Don Cox, adjunct faculty in electrical and computer engineering, drove a Tesla 2012 Model S, a car with an electric engine, to a top speed of 121.6 mph in the half-mile shootout at the recent Sandhills Open Road Challenge in the sandhills of western Nebraska. Don Cox, adjunct faculty in electrical and computer engineering, drove a Tesla 2012 Model S, a car with an electric engine, to a top speed of 121.6 mph in the half-mile shootout at the recent Sandhills Open Road Challenge in the sandhills of western Nebraska.

Cox races electric car at another SORC in western Nebraska

Calendar Icon Sep 12, 2016          RSS Feed RSS

Don Cox, adjunct faculty in the department of electrical and computer engineering
Don Cox, adjunct faculty in the department of electrical and computer engineering

Don Cox, adjunct faculty in electrical and computer engineering, competed in the recent 2016 Sandhills Open Road Challenge (SORC) August 11-13, racing in one of the three Tesla electrical cars that he owns.

Cox, who teaches a course at UNL about electrical cars, has many times participated in the SORC, an open-road racing event in the sandhills of western Nebraska. The weekend of events includes a half-mile shootout to determine top-end speed of the vehicles, a 55.3-mile road race, a 12-mile race on a course with plenty of curves, a burnout contest and a car show.

In a 2012 Tesla Model S with an electric engine, Cox and navigator Rebbacca Kleinjan, competed in the half-mile shootout (top run of 121.6 miles per hour) and the 55-mile road race (clocking 93 mph on the first leg and 98.1 mph on the return leg).

Here are some of Cox's recollections on the event:

"We ran the 55 mile run (28.7 miles up and 26.6 miles back) in the 95 mph average speed class. There were 28 cars ran that speed class. We were 18th out of the 28 in average speed, i.e. in time with respect to perfect time for the distance.

"Looks like we were about 9.47 seconds off perfect time for the total of 28.7 miles up and 26.6 miles back. Average speed was 93 mph for the up and 98.1 mph for the back. Considering we were 2 minutes off at the end of the up because of a navigation error and that we had several issues on the back also, our time is not too bad, and it is not the worst either – about in the middle of the pack.

"Of course, the best part is that the 2012 standard Model S did the 95 mph average class run over the total 55.3 miles after driving 38 miles from Gothenburg to Arnold before the run and 38 miles back to Gothenburg after the run. Running an average of 98 mph on the back run was good too as we made up the 2 minutes we were behind –sometimes we were running 119 and 120 mph on straightaways. The maximum we were allowed to run was 120 mph – hard not to exceed that with Model S. The minimum we were allowed to run was 75 mph except for the sharp curves that we could slow down for.

"Because of heating of the Model S at the highest speeds, it sometimes reduced the acceleration allowed but that returned to normal when we slowed for curves. The reduced acceleration was still large and allowed rapid speed increases out of the curves. The car is not hurt, it just reduces performance when the heating reaches maximum permissible. Even though the battery, motor and power electronics are liquid cooled (using the air conditioner if needed), at high speeds for long times, the heating exceeds the permissible.

"In the half-mile shootout, the maximum speed the standard Model S reached from standstill was 121.6 mph. The other two half-mile runs were 121 mph and 119.8 mph. The 119.8 was with a passenger (the navigator), and the other two runs were with driver alone. These maximum acceleration runs (shootout) were made after driving about 25 miles from Gothenburg to the shootout road. Again, there were other cars that did not reach the speeds that the 2016 standard Model S did."