Land Speed" Louise Ann Noeth Photo Copyright 1998

Ed Rannberg Memorial

The inspiration for NEDRA is Ed Rannberg, a man who began racing electric vehicles back in the 1980s.  Ed is also the inspiration for the Rannberg Cup Award. This award is given each year to NEDRA members who have made a significant contribution to the sport of electric drag racing.

In 1988 Ed's "Kawashocki" drag bike was featured in "Hot Bike" magazine. Even the enthusiasts from the gas powered motorcycle world took notice of Ed's accomplishments.

In honor or Ed's accomplishments, the article below first appeared in the September 1989 issue of the EVAOSC News and is reprinted here with their permission.  The incredible run described in the article below is on par with race times being run now.  Ed was truly an innovator and ten years ahead of his time.

In the EVAOSC Spotlight
by Ken Koch, EVAOSC News

Ed Rannberg has always enjoyed high performance vehicles, and his interest in EVs dates back almost as far as his interest in motorcycles. Ed's first electric car ride took place about 1972 when he rode in a Renault Dauphine converted by a friend, John Bradley of Rialto. Ed was fascinated by the ride. It didn't take long before he was converting a Renault of his own, using a J&H 9 HP aircraft motor and a36 volt battery system. Ed used his Renault for transportation to and from Kaiser Steel in Fontana where he worked. Interestingly enough, Leo Schatzl was employed at Kaiser, too, and had already been driving his electric car to work for 4 years. They met, became good friends, and shortly thereafter found themselves involved in organizing the EVA of Fontana. All of this took place about the same time that our country experienced its first oil embargo.

In 1968, Ed opened up a motorcycle shop in Fontana, which he named Eyeball Engineering. He managed to run the business while being employed mat Kaiser until he finally went full-time with Eyeball about 1975. Besides having tools and equipment to work on motorcycles, the shop has complete machining, welding and metal fabrication facilities. Over the years, the equipment has enabled Ed to build from scratch or convert about 12 electric's. Because of his interest in EVs and willingness to help others, Ed has played a part in building at least 25 electric vehicles. Some of his own vehicles have been strictly performance machines. One of the wildest rides Ed ever had was testing out a go cart which he built, powered by an aircraft motor and 72 volts worth of NiCad batteries. When you run the 1/4 mile drag strip at 94 mph and 14.02 seconds in the open air about 2 inches above the ground, anyone's appetite for speed could be turned into instant fear! Ed also designed and built an aircraft motor/NiCad powered drag bike called the Ampeater. Its best 1/4 mile performance was just a tiny bit slower than the go cart.

In 1987, a new lead acid battery came onto the market called the Pulsar Power Pack. It's manufactured by Dunlop Pacific in Australia. Ed heard about its low internal resistance and extremely high power density, and decided to order one for evaluation. Sure enough, a small 12 volter was able to push more than 900 amps through a carbonpile resistor for 15 seconds. Ed also heard of a Prestolite MTC-4001 motor being modified to produce over 100 HP for several seconds in a race car.

The Kawashocki

The combination of factors set Ed on the course to designing and building a faster and better electric motorcycle. The result: Eyeball Engineering's Kawashocki.

The Kawashocki is loosely based on the mechanicals of a Kawasaki Ninja bike. It has a 68 in wheelbase, is 8 ft. long, 3.5 ft. high and tips the scales at 640 lbs. It even uses modified fiberglass fairing from a Ninja, but that's where the similarity ends. The frame is constructed from chrome-moly tubing. Power is supplied by 16 Pulsar model 10P batteries, which are 12 volts each. The motor us a Prestolite MTC-4001 20 HP series-wound unit that has been modified to the extent that the end bell has been filled with insulative epoxy so that the brush rigging at 192 volts won't arc over to the case. The transmission is a 2-speed automatic, shifted by CO2 pressure, and is coupled through a centrifugal slipper clutch. The controller is a 2 step diode/contactor unit built by Leo. Step #1 puts half of the battery pack in parallel with the other half for 96 volts; step #2 puts all batteries in series for 192 volts. The controller steps are actuated by a rotating handlebar throttle grip. 0-300 volt and 0-1000 amp meters are mounted topside where the gas tank used to reside. A giant knife switch is within easy reach of the pilot for emergency shutdown. Batteries are rapid-charged between races with a 6500-watt Honda generator that charges at 220 volts and 25 amps.

By now you've got to be more than curious about what happens when you apply 192 volts to a 96 volt motor, all of which is pushing a light motorcycle and pilot. Well, how about 130-150 HP and a lot of very quietly generated smoke, not to mention some acceleration: 109.68 mph in 11.54 seconds for the 1�4 mile!! Ed reports that the motor draws 1000 amps coming off of the starting line, which "tapers off" to 400 amps or so at the timing lights. (Boy, you talk about a testimonial for the durability of a Prestolite motor!) It must be quite a different experience for the spectators to see all that smoke and hear next to nothing in noise. The Kawashocki has even been run at Bonneville to see what the top end would be. After a lot of experimenting with gear ratios, it ran a pretty consistent 124 to 126 mph in the flying mile. This told Ed that the amount of battery he's carrying in the bike pretty much determines the power limit.

What's next for Mr. Rannberg and Eyeball Engineering? His Kawashocki already has gained the notoriety of such publications as Hot Bike, National Dragster, Hot Rod Magazine and Electric Vehicle Progress. When asked, Ed confided that someday he'd like to break the 200 mph barrier in an electric vehicle. He didn't specify whether that would be with a motorcycle or a car. Present world land speed records are 171 mph for a bike and 175 mph for a car, set respectively by Corbin Gentry and Roger Hedlund back in 1974. Knowing what he does about racing frames, Prestolite motors and Pulsar batteries, it's just a matter of time before Ed realizes this 200+ mph dream. By the way - Ed sells brand new Prestolite motors for as low as you'll find anywhere.

The first of the following messages was written by Roderick and posted by Wilde EVolutions to the Internet to let the online EV community know of Ed's passing. The remaining messages are responses, either to the Internet community or directly to Wilde EVolutions.

Roderick Wilde:

One of the greatest EV pioneers of our time passed away last night. Ed Rannberg, founder of Eyeball Engineering in Riverside, California, has left a gaping hole in the EV movement which will be extremely hard to fill. When I first got involved in EVs several years ago I loved the simplicity of design, but felt the public would never except them because of their poor performance. I made many phone calls, seeking advice on performance EVs. All roads led to Ed Rannberg. Everyone I spoke to said to call him, he should be able to help you. In fact he did more than give me his years of experience and advice for free. He also inspired me. He became not only my mentor and hero, but also a man I was honored to call my friend. He will be deeply missed by us all.

John Wayland:

I too, had the pleasure of knowing this very kind, EV pioneer. I first talked with Ed years ago by phone, then I had the chance to meet him in person at the '96 APS Electric's in Phoenix .... definitely the highlight of my trip there! He had approached to tell me how much he enjoyed watching the White Zombie burnoff, and how much he liked watching my 1�4 mile runs .This was my first real clue as to how humble and nice of a fellow he was..... Here was THE MAN, the guy who was blasting down the drag strip in the world's quickest electric motorcycle (Kawashocki ... runs in the mid-elevens!) when I still had on my EV diapers, and here he was complementing me! He was THE MAN who had built the 200 mph "Lightning Rod" salt flats streamliner, and yet he was doing his best to make me feel like I had really accomplished something!

Bruce Meland:

This as part of the article Clare Bell wrote for Electrifying Times, which is a wonderful way to remember Ed Rannberg, a clever EV pioneer designer from the first go. I first met Ed at a Clean Air Revival EV race near San Francisco about 6-7 years ago and he was racing an electric skateboard (he had just completed another one of his first unique designs) through the streets. Now this was quite a sight! Ed was no small person, can you imagine him laying on his backside flying through the streets on this skateboard. Wow. It was designed like a tank and faster than a speeding bullet. And what a sight. We will miss him. The last time most of us saw him was at the '97 APS Electric's. And I remember clearly him telling about his newest and almost complete project, An EV with a Kostov Motor and a battery-tray that rolled out to the rear. We will miss him.

Winning more than Records
by Clare Bell

Ed Rannberg of Eyeball Engineering and Lloyd Healey of Healey Motor Sports have some things in common. One: They have both exceeded 200 mph in EVs. Two: They are competing against each other. Three: They are both racing against a larger clock than the Utah Salt Flats Racing Associations official timer. One of them is already in overtime.

Healey, a 38-year-old former Air Force sergeant, was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver and pancreas in 1992. Doctors gave him a medical discharge and a life expectancy of three months. The San Antonio resident credits his EV land-speed record quest, an experimental drug, and his religious faith for extending his life. Healey has been undergoing treatment at the Cancer Therapy Research Center of San Antonio, TX, Under the direction of Dr. Daniel Van Hoff. Treatment has included the experimental drug Gemcitabine, developed by Eli Lilly. He's been described as living on determination, keeping busy with a schedule of speaking engagements often to children, at churches, schools and hospitals. He is supported in both activities by Quick Cable Corp., a manufacturer of heavy-duty electrical connectors and cables in Racine, WI.

Ed is a sturdy 63, but piloting a Bonneville racer through the 200 barrier can send a heartbeat soaring nearly as high as the car's velocity in miles per hour. Rannberg may be as tough as boot leather, but most folks do this sort of thing in their twenties or thirties, not their sixties. Ed is very much aware of his competitor's battle with illness, having been through some rough times himself. After the Spirit of San Antonio II, set its top speed record (one-way) of 206.516, Ed told Healey, "I'm really glad you broke 200. I was waiting in the wings, but I wanted you to be first." Nevertheless Ed came on hard with a speed of 201.703 on the exit clock. The timers showed that Lightning Rod was still accelerating as it came out of the fifth mile.

In a way this match exemplifies the "everyone is a winner" spirit of EV racing that both enhances and transcends competition. The result in some ways, was the best; Healey ahead, Ed barely a nose behind. Envisioning Lightning Rod and Spirit of San Antonio II rocketing along the salt flat, nearly side-by side brings a lump-in-the- throat for human courage and ability. The competition isn't over, either. Both want to return to Bonneville in October of this year.

In this race, there are no losers. In life as well as speed, both Ed Rannberg and Lloyd Healy have triumphed --CB

Chip (Gale De Los Santos):

I really wanted to meet Mr. Rannberg... Does he still hold the record for fastest Electric Motorcycle (1/4)

Daniel Pliskin:

I remember Ed, talking about that bike. He would take a nitro pill for his heart, slip it under his tongue and hit the switch. It always bruise his tail bone, he would complain/boast. Ed was one of these guys who lived to try to go faster, in whatever he was working on. But, you didn't get the impression that he was suicidal, about it. Maybe, that was because his wife was right there with him. Maybe by the time I meat Ed, he had slowed down enough, so that she feared for his life. I think it was because he was such a good designer and craftsman, that his vehicles were safe, at those speeds. You got the sense that, with a little design effort and a few trial runs, Ed would be able to pull it off. I think it was Ed who designed the first commercial electric scooter and he took those motors and used them to compete in our first Northern California Electrathon. His vehicle was a three wheeled leaner. I had never seen anything like that, before, and took endless pictures of it's mechanisms. Ed hadn't even bothered to paint it. To me it looked like a piece of kinetic sculpture.

Lou Tauber:

We all owe a great deal Ed as one of the trail blazers of EV technology. I was fortunate to have met him. He willingly shared information and was respected by everyone. I hope to talk Bill Dube into writing an article about Ed in the first issue of the NEDRA newsletter, so everyone can marvel at his accomplishments. What a great man he was.

Steven S Lough:

Long handlebar mustache
infectious enthusiasm and smile Endless optimism towards our EV future Friendliness and warmth towards the least and smallest of our EV family He made us all feel as important as Corporate titans Even if we were only back yard tinkerers.

Bruce Meland:

I found the ultimate photo of Ed Rannberg -wide angle- he is sitting on his red Electric Motorcycle at the 95 APS Electric's, also a photo of him shaking hands with Ed Beagly(sp?) at a Seer EV meet, and a night shot on the drag line at 96 APS Electric's all of which I will put on our web site.

Anthony Barros:

My condolences to all who knew Ed Rannberg. I did not know him personally, but he has had a profound influence on EV thought-ology and do-ology. His ideas and inspiration will not be forgotten.

John Paramore:

I only met Ed via the phone, and always hoped I'd have the chance for a real meeting someday. He's responsible, as much as anybody; including contestants, for the success of E-boats by taking time to talk to fellow maniacs and providing a wealth of advice and information. And Ed's bike showed us how to trim and tune for performance in a small package. In APBA Region 10 the Babcock trophy is presented annually to the best performer in Inboard, Outboard and OPC categories. This perpetual trophy is named for the late George Babcock, who owned a local boat company and Seattle International Raceway, and who decided one day about 35 years ago to go boat racing. He ran 7 liter hydro... not a class for the faint of heart. George just lit up the boat racing scene, with multiple championships and records, and quality race promotion and innovation. When George was killed in an accidental fall at the raceway, the perpetual trophies were established in his name and are among the most coveted in boat racing, ranking on a par with the APBA Hall of Champions award. With the hopeful advent of NEDRA and drag racing series don't you think it would be appropriate to establish a perpetual "Rannberg Cup."

Steve Van Ronk:

Sorry to hear of Ed passing. He was a friend and an inspiration to me, as well, and to many of the early EV enthusiasts. Ed's work set a standard of performance and craftsmanship and his personality was friendly and cooperative in a way that few can match. May he live on as a continuing inspiration and a perpetual legend in the EV world.

Rich Brown:

I was very sorry to read this. He really will be missed for the spirit he gave to all of us and the contributions to the industry. I know you will miss him greatly. I only spoke to him a couple times on the phone and was greatly impressed with how generous he was with his time and knowledge as if I was already his friend.

Roderick Wilde:

Two EVs showed up for the 1997 Utah Salt Flats Racing Association USFRA World of Speed event Sept. 23-27. Eric Luebben piloting Ed Rannberg 's Lightning Rod and Mike Meeks behind the wheel of Lloyd Healey's "Spirit of San Antonio II." Both were there to run in honor and memory of our departed legends, as well as friends and inspirations to many of us. Eric is a long time friend of the Rannbergs'. He stepped up to help Geri, Ed's wife, run Eyeball Engineering even though he was extremely busy with his own company, Cybortronics, which builds environmental burning and test chambers. Since Eric hadn't raced at Bonneville before he had to do license runs to qualify for an attempt at the EV land speed record held by Lloyd Healey. He completed his runs without a hitch. On Thursday Sept. 25 Eric passed the end of the fourth mile at a speed off 217.443 miles per hour. It was looking great for a new EV land speed record and a milestone record of the first EV to have a two way run average of over 200 miles-per-hour. Alas, it was not to be. In his next record attempt run, one of the motors let loose at over 190 miles per hour. Although this was a great disappointment to both Eric and Geri, they have vowed to return Oct. 15-18 for the "World Finals". The "Spirit of San Antonio II" also did not do as well as earlier attempts. However, on Wednesday morning Sept. 24th, a memorial service was held for Loyd Healey. Following the service, Mike Meeks took the streamliner out on the track at a 190+ miles per hour, released Lloyds' ashes onto the salt via the parachute hole. A fitting tribute to another great EV pioneer who will remain in our hearts and minds always. Postscript: Eric Luebben is now the 5th person to have driven an EV at over 200 miles per hour.

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