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John Wayland's 100 mph Record Breaking Run

May 9 - John Wayland has become the first NEDRA member to race a street legal electric powered car to over 100 mph in the quarter mile, clocking in at 100.76 mph with an ET of 13.004 seconds. And at the same time beating a 375 HP V-8 Camaro in the next lane.

John's car, the "White Zombie", is a 1972 Datsun 1200 powered by dual 8" Warfield motors for 200+ HP, 20 12-volt Exide batteries and a 1400 amp Godzilla controller. In race mode, dual Kilovac Bubba contactors bypass the controller for 2500 amps of delivered battery/motor current. 

Although several electric vehicles (EVs) have surpased the 100 mph mark including Bill Dube's Killacycle at 152 mph and Dennis Berube's Dragster at 137 mph, racing a street legal EV to over 100 mph has been an elusive goal. Visit our records page to see several of NEDRA's 100+ mph runs.

Below is John's personnal account of the event.

Hello to All,

Thanks to everyone for all the congrats, thanks to my sponsors Exide Batteries and
Kilovac, and thanks to Marko Mongillo for the custom metal fab work and for his time spent track side helping these past years.

It took four l-o-n-g and often frustrating years of chasing White Zombie's best ET and
speed, to surpass it's world record in the SC/A class. That was back on May 27th, 2000, when with Rich Brown at the wheel on his birthday at Bandimere Speedway near Denver, the 1995 lb., single large motor, 336V version of White Zombie posted a 13.186 @ 99.19 mph quarter mile. In contrast, it took just four short runs Saturday night to push White Zombie past that benchmark and through the 100 mph barrier for street legal EVs...wow, what a great feeling that was! White Zombie is now quicker and faster than it has ever been. I really didn't expect the car with the much heavier, lower voltage pack of Exides (240V @ 800 lbs.) to do this well, but the batteries have proven to be VERY powerful and extremely tough.

Saturday's record run was made even sweeter, as it was done before excited race fans against a full blown modern muscle car, a late model 2001 or 2002 Camaro, the last version of Chevy's Mustang fighter before being dropped out of production. This one was a very nice example, too, painted a gorgeous white pearl, fitted with a custom domed cowl induction hood, and sporting large diameter alloys with fat drag slicks on the rear. It had the LT1 350 V8, pumped up with an aggressive cam, hi-rise intake system, headers and trick exhaust, special performance chip, etc., to the tune of 375 hp according to its owner...nope, not your stock Camaro. He pulled next to me as we staged, and his loping cam and snarling exhaust served notice he was gonna whip my little Datsun...the crowd was going a bit nuts over the grudge match unfolding (I wish there had been someone there with a video cam). He did a ferocious burnout next to me, one that was, quite frankly, a bit intimidating. I was thinking he was going to easily beat me; thinking it was too bad I couldn't be racing against a less powerful car on what I had hoped would be 'the run' where the car would exceed 100 mph...you know, it would just be perfect, to not only hit the century mark, but to do it while also beating a fast car next to me. So, instead of a stock muscle car or maybe a 300 hp Sube STI (an impressive 13.3 for a typical ET), here I had this bad ass Camaro to deal with. When I managed to stay ahead of the Camaro the entire length of the track, I knew I had made a strong run. Read on, to hear the Camaro driver's classic comments to me after that race.

I had written:

I've already started the mods for the afterburner mode!...Running Exide Orbitals with power to spare...with proper protection circuits...I have begun the mods to make the parallel shift a controller bypass thing...the next time the car hits the track, when the button is hit and the accelerator is floored...two contactors will connect each motor directly to the 240V pack!

Unlike the previous Friday's day of disasters at every turn, this past Friday went totally according to plan, well, sort of. I was home early and started working on the car by 1:00. Marko Mongillo arrived at around 4:00 in his super hip 'Fiamp' electric Fiat 600, and found one of the many EV outlets to plug into so his green machine could get a full charge while we worked on the race car.

With so many difficulties in the past getting the series-parallel switch-over to function correctly, and knowing that a sagging 12V supply was the culprit, I had experimented with the Bubba contactors (high voltage, high current load disconnected) and each would draw ~ 5-6 amps to 'pull in' properly. With a third Bubba serving as the main contactor already on line and the large front motor brush-field bypass contactor also turned on, plus a water pump, various other relays, and parking lights all on (lights are required to be on in nighttime drag racing), the two small 7 ahr AGM 12V batteries under the hood would sag to under 11 volts, and the twin Bubba's would either click-in very weakly, like cla-ick....cla-ick, or they would simply not even make it and would not pull in at all. I knew' that to handle the huge current of a 240V bypass at over 2000 amps, the contactors would have to snap in with authority....SNAP!, in order to survive repeated runs. With an external DC-DC set to near 15V connected, this was how they operated, so I made the decision to finally install a DC-DC in the car. I didn't have one that could run at 240V, so in a last minute thing just before leaving to go race, I installed an old Todd PC20LV and tapped off just half the pack. It's a no-no to unevenly discharge any EV's battery pack, but the Todd only drew about 1-2 amps while outputting 15V @ 15-20 amps to run all the 12V stuff under the hood, and, it would only be connected during pre-staging and running down the track. We added a 120 vac female plug in the trunk, so we could quickly plug and unplug the DC-DC, plus, we could plug and unplug the 50 amp Anderson 12V connection under the hood as well. The plan was to connect, then disconnect the DC-DC as described, so that during pit charging time, the pack could be equalized a bit to make up for the slight offset in discharge of half the pack.

By 6:30, the Zombie was finished with the performance mods, charged up, and ready for the drive to the track. The Afterburner contactor bypass was in place but untested...it's a little precarious to unleash 2500-3000 amps other than at the strip! In theory, letting off the throttle, hitting the steering wheel button, then slamming down the accelerator again, would disconnect the controller, disconnect the series mode, connect the parallel mode, and feed straight 240V battery potential to the twin motors. I had constructed a 'resistor', 10 ft. of 1/0 cable coiled up (to make it more compact), with two ring terminal connections. Both Rudman and I had figured the instantaneous current without such a resistor might exceed 3000 amps and blow up batteries. I made a guess that the 10 ft. of 1/0, would hold that 3000 amps back a bit to say, 2500 amps or so...it was just a guess. The 1/0 loop would not be inserted in series with the contactor pack, until we were at the track and ready to race. I had no desire to somehow accidentally engage the Afterburner mode and fly off Marine Drive and into the Columbia!

Tom Whipple showed up right on cue to drive the Jeep and trailer loaded with the generator and compressor. Marko would drive Fiamp, and I would drive the Zombie. And so, off we went, west towards the track....and then, it got darker and darker...and then the rain started...and then the wind...and then the downpour! By the time we reached the Burger King stop point, it was raining like crazy! We fired up the generator and with its exhaust steaming, it juiced up both the Zombie and Fiamp while we were all getting soaked in the rain...what fun! Long story short...we got rained out :-( I called Rod and Rich to tell them the 100 mph barrier still stood. After the drive to the track, the time to charge stuff up, and the return drive back home, it was close to 9:00 PM.

I had promised Rick, my friend and foreman at work, the same guy who supported my racing efforts the previous Friday by showing up in the '53 Chevy with his buddy Kelly, that I would attend and enter my race car in a big classic car show in the city of Forest Grove, about 35 miles west of Portland, on Saturday. The forecast for Saturday wasn't good for such a show, with multiple thunderstorms predicted to roll on through. I went to bed Friday night tired and cold, with the thought that I'd be calling Rick in the morning to hear him say that the car show was canceled. Saturday as expected, I awoke to an overcast morning, but when I called to talk with Rick, his wife excitedly told me how he was out hand-washing and polishing up the Chevy for the show. I really didn't have the energy or the desire to get my car ready, especially after the disappointing Friday race attempt and rain-out, but I also didn't want to let my friend down.

Of course, I did the right thing, and by 8:00 AM, I was outside unloading the race stuff from the trailer...as it got darker out and started to rain again! I was once again, getting soaked and wondering what was wrong with me! I then, realized that the ramps for getting the car up onto the trailer, were at Marko's place, 18 miles south in Oregon City! I was off to go get the ramps, not the least bit happy. The plan had been, that I'd meet up with the guys at Rick's place between 9 and 9:30...that, was now, not going to happen. I called Rick to give him an update, and he said they'd wait for me, so we could caravan out to the car show together. I got the ramps and returned to my house, calling Rick one more time on the way back home, only to find they had already left for the show without me :-( I nonetheless, kept my end of the deal and continued to work in the rain, alone. I still had to get the Jeep and trailer up and out of the shop driveway, then, had to get the Zombie out of the shop and out to the street as well. The problem, was that in my redesign of the motor wiring setup for the Afterburner mode, I had to disengage electric reverse (I now have a plan to get reverse back). The Heavy Metal Garden Tractor came to the rescue, and with my wife steering the race car, I dragged White Zombie up the shop driveway and out to the street. Nearly an hour later, we had the Zombie up on the trailer and chained down, ready for the 35 mile drive to Forest Grove to a location out in the country I've never been to, with vague directions, and no cell number to contact Rick and company. To shorten this up a bit....let it suffice to say, that it all went to hell! We never found the car show and never caught up to Rick and Kelly, as for some weird reason, they left the show early, before we even had a chance to get there. We turned around and drug the trailer and car all the way back to town. At home, I didn't even bother to unload the car off the trailer, and instead, just pulled the Jeep with its trailer load down the shop driveway, and closed the gate...my Saturday was pretty much gone, and I was 'not' a happy camper! As I pondered the rained-out Friday night thing and the busted Saturday, and with more wind and rain taunting me, the phone rang. It was Rod, wanting to know if I was going to the track. I told him the weather still sucked, that I was not in the best mood, that my weekend had been a disaster so far, and that I had no intentions of racing. I then, took a two hour nap.

I awoke in late afternoon and was surprised to find a warm breeze coming in the window. The weather man had said that following a stormy Saturday, Mother's Day would be sunny and dry...seems the good weather was arriving early! Something snapped in my brain, and a quick last minute call was made to Marko, "Hey, it's dry out...wanna go race?"

It didn't take long for Marko to get to my house, and like we had done together so many times before, we got down to business and off loaded the car, then reloaded the trailer with racing stuff. We left for the track at around 7:00 PM. We arrived at the track, and as I was paying the entry fee, I phoned the Madman to let him know we were at the track. We teched in very quickly, as the tech guys all know the car now. They seemed excited over the car, as usual, and also as usual, the other racers teching in gathered around to see the electric drag car. It took 45 minutes to get the car charged back up after the drive to the track, and with that, it was time to install the 1/0 resistor cable that would enable the Afterburner mode.

With the resistor in place, the car fully charged up to 296V, and the trunk mounted Todd PC20 LV plugged into the pack with its output connected to the 12V system up front via the 50 amp Anderson port, I was off to stage in the Power Lane. With the parking lights on and various 12V items running, the 0-15V panel gauge was right at 15V. I would make a solo run with no one next to me. I could hear Dave, the track announcer, talk up the car as he explained to everyone it was electric, and that it was quick!

The car had a strong launch, and it felt like the front end got a bit light, too. I was expecting the Afterburner mode to be pretty potent, and I was not disappointed! I hit the button when the series mode through the controller had ramped down to 700 amps. The effect was immediate as the 1500 amp dash gauge‚s needle banged on the peg and stayed there, with the car’s back end coming loose a bit accompanied by the sound of barking tires...great fun.

The motors simply exploded with power and hurtled the car forward with very strong acceleration. This first run was far quicker than I had hoped for at 13.35 and 98 mph, a quantum leap for my car, a whole 4/10th second quicker than the previous weekend‚s 13.7 times, and, it was just 2 mph short of the goal.

After a 15 minute recharge and fresh ice water to cool the controller, it was time to make the 2nd pass of the night. The batteries were warmed up some by now, so I was hoping for a better time and higher speed. The Zombie delivered, with a 13.25 @ 99 mph...wow, just 1 mph from 100! More importantly, this kind of acceleration was approaching the glory days when the Zombie was 500 lbs. lighter and at 336V! Man, it felt good knowing I had brought the car back to its former potent self. With the car back on charge again, I took a quick break to run over to the tower and ran up the stairs to talk with Dave. He was as excited as I was, over how the car was performing. I told him of the 100 mph goal we were after. Dave said, “Doesn’t your car get quicker as the batteries heat up?” Man, it’s super cool to have the track announcer “get it!” He even had a note pad near his announcer’s desk, and I noticed he had my first two runs written down, so he was already into the whole electric car at the track‚ thing before I had come up to talk with him...how great is that? We talked a bit more about how special it would be if I were to actually hit 100 mph, and how it would be pretty historic.

The third run was fantastic in several ways. It started off great, because sitting next to me in the staging lanes, was my racing friend Gene in his black, 11 second ‘79 Nova with its 550 hp nitrous V8. We got to race each other, something that both of us like to do. Poised at the christmas tree, I could hear Dave... “Here’s John Wayland in his electric car again. Folks, this car has gotten quicker with each run, and it’s also approaching 100 mph. Full race electrics have gone way over 100 mph, but no street legal electric electric car has done it. I bet John’s the only guy here tonight who doesn’t care if gas hits two fifty a gallon!”

The tree sent us on our way, and though Gene’s car is far more powerful, quicker, and faster than mine, he didn’t simply fly away from me as I’m sure some in the stands thought he would. According to those who were watching, the Zombie lifted its tires up again and looked very strong next to Gene’s 11 second car. Gene started to pull away, of course, but I cut a low 8 second 1/8th mile against his low 7 second time, a big difference, yes, but from the bleachers vantage point, I guess it looked fairly close for a while. The Zombie had dropped another 2/10ths of a second off, this time posting 13.087 @ 99.8 mph, just .2 mph short of the mark! This run was very significant, as I realized the car had just out performed its best ET and speed, ever, and that the 4 year drought had ended. I also realized the car was edging towards the 12’s.

After that very low 13 run, quite a few spectators and fellow racers came over to our pit area, and they were all excited over the way the Zombie was running. Gene parked his machine and came over, too....” Man, Plasma Boy, you‚re getting a great launch! I think you‚re lifting the nose up, too.” One guy said, “Geez, your electric car can smoke a Sube STI!” We all could smell 100 mph on the next run.

The fourth run was the 13.004 @ 100.76 mph against the Camaro I‚ve already written about. The best part of the race, was what happened afterwards. The first cool thing, was when on the return lane to pick up my time slip, the timing shack girl's body language said it all, as she had a huge EV grin and curtsied as I approached her... “ You did it!!!” I came into the pit area, and there was already a small gathering of well-wishers. Marko was very excited and everyone was blown away at how the car had almost dipped into the 12‚s. The talk was also about how the built Camaro couldn‚t get around me, and about that time, the throaty grumble of a Chevy V8 was heard as the Camaro pulled into our camp. The driver shut down the engine, opened his door, and with his time slip in hand, he looked over at me and said, “I should be happy...this is the quickest my car’s run, and the first time it’s broken 100. You know your car pulls its front tires off the ground, right? I knew I was in trouble when you launched like that...the worse part, is that I’m going to have to tell my buddies that I gotbeat by a battery powered Datsun!” The Camaro guy was way cool, though, and after being told my run was a very significant one for electrics, he kind of got into the whole thing....”So, I’m part of history, sort of, right?‰ About that time, Pete, one of the track officials, arrived with some 100 MPH Club‚ stickers for the Camaro driver and I. It seems like a little thing, but getting that sticker was very gratifying. I asked for an extra one, so I could put one on each side of my car, and Pete was happy to give me a second one.

After the 13.004 run at nearly 101 mph, Marko and I knew it would run a 12.9 something at 102. .. it all seemed to be working so well for us.

The 5th run, though, turned out to be a bust. With all the excitement in the pits and being swarmed by well wishers and fans, we screwed up and made a big mistake...we forgot to plug-in the 50 amp Anderson under the hood! As I staged, I noticed my dash lights were dim, and saw the 0-15V dash meter at around 11V. I had just enough time to hop out, run around back, open the trunk, and look inside to see if the 120 vac plugs were mated together… they were, so I ran back and got into the seat and buckled back up, as I was being directed onto the track...BIG mistake! I 'should' have simply pulled out of line and also looked under the hood, as I would have found that the 12V Anderson connection there, was unplugged....but, I didn't do that :-( The run had a nice launch, then when I clicked the steering wheel button, the blue 'Series' light went out, and the green 'parallel' light went on as they should, but there was no slam into the seat, no tire squeal, no power rush....no power at all, and the car simply coasted slower and slower. I finally re-selected 'Series' mode, the blue light came back on, and I took a leisurely drive down the track and came into the pits to see what had happened...that's when I found I had left the under-hood Anderson unplugged :-(.

I feared the worse, and just knew the poor Bubba's had been trying to pull in at under 11V, and just 'knew' I had probably damaged one or both of them, as they had probably burnt their contacts badly under such a scenario. Sure enough, run #6 was, well, exciting! I hit the button and at first, the contactors snapped in and there was that huge power blast with a big screech of the tires and the slam into the seat...then, a half second later, the power went limp...then, they re-connected again for a second screech and seat slam...then, the car accelerated 'OK'... then, strong Again ... whew, it was hard on my neck. As I hit 100 or so and flashed across the finish line, I lifted off the throttle, but the car just kept flying ahead at full power...OOPS! It freaked me out as I blasted through the warning cones at the dark end of the track ... yee hah, what a ride! I hit the brakes pretty hard, but the electric motors laughed at this feeble attempt. I had been trying to disconnect the parallel mode with the dash buttons to no avail, so I finally turned off the ign. key and the main contactor Bubba held up to its 3000 amp interrupt, 327V rating, and the relentless electric motors loosened their grip on the
car...pant, pant, pant...heart pounding away!

I had welded one of the two Bubbas, the same lazy acting one I had tested in the shop....damn! Of course, I wasn't 'sure' of what I had done at the moment at the track, as in the pits, we had measured for continuity, and both contactors were open and not shorted. We charged back up, and decided for another try at the 12's...it was just 4/100's away!

The final run, #7, was also a bust, as the damage had been done to the one Bubba, and at the moment for the button push, the car again, went limp with no effect, it did, nicely return to the series mode, so I was able to get down and off the track. I didn't bother to check out things under the hood...I could do that the next day at home, I only knew that 'something' had gone wrong, right after the 12V system voltage sagging episode. I 'did' disconnect both bypass contactors for a safe ride home in series mode.

It was a bittersweet night. Getting to 100 was super cool, but being so close to the 12’s only to blow the chance due to stupidity on my part, was a tough one. I know that the awesome Bubba contactors see extreme duty in this application, duty way over their design, but I also know that if they are snapped in with a full 14.5-15V, they will probably last a while. I'm convinced it was the lazy 11V attempt to pull in, that did the one in. You just can't have contactors pull in slowly under big inrush current loads...they need to bang in hard in order to survive. If I had only pulled out of line and checked under the hood, I'd have not only bagged the elusive 100 mph prize, I would have also had the 12's in hand, too :-(

I'm hitting the track tonight, Friday, to see if I can hit a 12 something. I‚ll happily settle for a 12.99 :-) Improvements to the car include a new manual disconnect Marko and I designed yesterday (it only takes one stuck contactor at over 100 mph to motivate me), a hard wired DC-DC, and contactor swaps with a redesign of the way the two bypass units are activated.

Mike Chancey has updated the Zombie's EV Album photo page, and two of the time slips are posted for those who might be interested. Brain Hall has also already posted the Zombie's new SC/B record at the NEDRA Record Holders page. Thanks, guys.

This should be another exciting weekend of electric drag racing. Dennis, I'm sure, will be out again, and Rod, Rudman, FT, and crew will be hitting the track with Gone Postal. If it stays together and Rod keeps it on the track, GP has the potential to run 105-110 mph and in the low 12's.

See Ya ...John 'Plasma Boy' Wayland

'Plasma Boy Racing...we blow stuff up, so you don't have to!'


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