Friday, August 13, 2010

When Worlds Collide

What is it really
That's going on here
You've got your system for total control
So is there really anybody out there
Now watch us suffer cause we can't go
What is it really that is in your head
What little life that you had just died
I'm gonna be the one that's takin over
Now this is what it's like when worlds collide
- Powerman 5000, “When Worlds Collide”


Last week Hell for Leather Magazine published a great piece by Ivar Kvadsheim on why we need a single eMoto road racing series. EnvironMoto is in total agreement on the subject. So I wrote a response in the comments which more or less details my concerns for the future if the current situation continues, and what should happen in order for TTXGP and the FIM to devise a contiguous electric motorcycle roadracing series.

The FIM may not be pure evil as I have made them out to be in the past, but they sure do love money. I do believe that the FIM intends to keep the e-Power series alive so that they may entice the major motorcycle manufacturers (the guys with lots of money) with a politically positive option. “Look Yamaha, we have a prêt-a-porter racing series that will highlight how green (blue for you Europeans) your product line is.”

Anyway, I am posting the response as it reads in the HFL comment area. I figure that I might as well post it here and invite agreement, indifference, or flaming criticism. Here it is:

I’m trying to think a decade into the future while composing my thoughts on the state of electric road racing and its two competing series. Here’s my two cents:

FIM
The FIM has the power to make things happen. Not only that, but when they have proper motivation (i.e. money) they really know how to make things happen (like Honda-sourced spec engines for Moto2). In the FIM e-Power series’ current state, I have to believe that they aren’t going to truly push down the electric racing path without either massive outside backing or significant fan/consumer interest (or if Valentino Rossi suddenly decides he will race an electric bike next year).

That being said, I have to believe that the big established motorcycle manufacturers are lurking in the background, waiting for the technology to advance and consumer demand to show up on their radar before they jump in. WHEN the big Japanese or European IC bike manufacturers start building serious electric motorcycles and want to race them, the FIM is going to do everything they can to cater to them.

I am sure that today the FIM is glad to have the cottage industry builders participating in e-Power (even the stupid scooters), but the way the FIM works, those little guys will be cast aside like yesterdays news as soon as companies like Honda and Yamaha decide they want to race electric motorcycles. I am sure that is what the FIM are waiting/hoping for. I think that the small manufacturers currently in the e-Power series should read the writing on the wall. If they are relying on the FIM to give them special preference ten years from now, they are delusional. Unless by chance one of the builders currently racing in e-Power strikes it big and becomes a major manufacturer, they are going to be SOL (shit outta luck) in a few years.

TTXGP
For the most part, I believe in the TTXGP organizational concept (Trust.eGrandprix.org, TEO). Beyond just the crowd sourced technical rules (the eGrandprix rules wiki), I believe in the philosophy that benefits the manufacturers who participate in the races. The greater a builder’s involvement is, the more ownership they take. Theoretically; a manufacturer who commits to the series and begins racing this season could always potentially own a greater stake in the organization than even Honda would, even if Honda decided to enter next year. The concept could help keep the little guys relevant and not kicked to the curb once bigger players emerge.

I am pretty amazed that more of the independent manufacturers have not embraced this idea at least partially. Maybe next year will be a different story. No one currently involved in electric racing has the shear financial power of a company like Honda. The TTXGP format allows anyone from a garage builder on up to MotoCzysz to come in and have influence on the direction of the sport, and have a vested interest in its success.

The biggest concern with the current TTXGP organization is Azhar’s dual role as organizer and manufacturer. We know that some other manufacturers have a problem with this as well. Personally, I see that being a major limiting factor in the growth of TTXGP. To grow TTXGP (or partner with the FIM), Azhar is going to have to seriously consider where he wants to position himself in the organization. Despite the TEO concept of reduced ownership of the original investors over time (I assume that includes Azhar), the perception of a conflict of interest will remain.

Meld
In a nutshell, I agree with Ivar. Competition and technology will suffer without a unified sanctioning entity. The creation of a successful solitary series is a must, in order to advance the sport and the technology which trickles down from it. There must be a melding of the FIM’s established credibility and ability to coordinate big time venues, sponsors, and exposure with TTXGP’s innovation and enthusiasm. The FIM have to be willing to loosen their grip on their old-school organizational model and help TTXGP refine the TEO concept and rules for classes (yes that is plural). Azhar would (and I think should) have to completely separate himself from Mavizen and continue to be the face (and father) of electric motorcycle racing. I think the organization side needs Azhar far more than the manufacturing side, and I also believe the long term rewards for him will be far greater.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TTXGP NA Round 3: The Start

video

Barnes smoking the field through turn 1 at Mosport from the start.  More later.

Monday, May 17, 2010

David Versus Goliath

The morbidly curious among us loyal (and potentially rabid) electric motorcycle road racing heads may want to know how Azhar Hussain’s opening round of the North American TTXGP Championship held at Infineon Speedway this past weekend (16 May 2010) compared to the FIM’s inaugural ePower International Championship opener held at LeMans, France last month.


Based on the known facts and figures blatantly stolen from PlugBike.com, AsphaltAndRubber.com, eMotoRules.com, IvarKvadsheim, the FIM, HellForLeather.com (who seriously know how to have a good time), and eGrandPrix.com; David did indeed slay Goliath.

The FIM had their asses handed to them not only on quantity of entries, but also on quality of participation. Well known, and well respected, veteran road racers Michael Barnes and Shawn Higbee swapped positions on their respective Lightning Motors and Zero/Agni machines throughout the 11-lap final event, with Higbee coming out on top at the end. Although there were technical issues for nearly every team on the grid, there were still some great battles, and it was a fantastic start to the e-season.

So, how did the two competing opening events compare? Here we go:
Okay, I had to throw in the scooter stat because I just don’t care for the silly things. Saying the word scooter actually makes me vomit in my mouth a little. I think the French have a term for a person who shows up to an international road race on a scooter, “le sac de douche” (okay, maybe it’s an American term). I mean really, how much of a DB are you to put your pit bike on the grid at the legendary LeMans circuit and not mean it as a joke? I digress.

In less than a week (22-May-2010), the FIM gets their first chance to redeem themselves and save some face on the international e-racing stage. The entire electric road racing scene will be looking toward Albacete, Spain to see how it all turns out. For now that’s TTXGP 1, ePower 0.


Sources: As Hyperlinked (please visit them for more info, and far better writing)
Photo: (Higbee and Barnes) stolen from AsphaltAndRubber.com 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

As the DC Motor Turns: The Electric Roadracing Soap Opera Continues


Complications at Birth
I hate to restate the obvious; that this marketing and promotion feud between TTXGP, IoM DTL, and the FIM is bad for the emerging electric motorcycle roadracing scene, but yeah, it certainly is.

On the other hand, maybe it’s good that we get things sorted out right at the start. Perhaps this is the point in time where everyone has the least to lose if their respective series just doesn’t take hold. Assuming competition improves the breed, we should have the best electric bike racing series possible in short order with minimal financial casualties. Harsh, but true.

I predict that we will see a single, dominant series emerge from 2010.

Evil Empire(s)
Questionable intentions appear to lie behind the motivations of the IoM TT people and the FIM. The FIM actions are no surprise. They historically tend to embrace the dark side of the force. To kick Azhar Hussain to the curb and claim the TTXGP rulebook is classic stuff from them, and yes, that is my take on what happened. The TT people are more of a surprise. I can’t fathom their reasoning other than overt publicity whoring and greed.

With his recognition in the e-moto racing scene, his charm and acumen, Azhar and his TTXGP series may still have the edge. Some will still take issue with his dual role as manufacturer (Mavizen) and series organizer (TTXGP) and chose another option. Some may be lured by the FIM’s promise of start money and marketing power. Others will see the Isle of Man as the true test for man and machine.

My heart goes out to Azhar. I can understand how emotionally invested he is. I hope he finds solace in knowing that he will forever be recognized as the father of organized electric motorcycle racing. I also feel that he has the right ideas, and the best intentions for the sport. I am certain that at the very least, his North American TTXGP series will be a hit.

Promise
The e-racing bike builders will ultimately be the deciding force in this drama. Many of the players have already been maneuvering themselves into the best position possible for their vision for the future. I’m sure that they are all trying to envision their future plans and which series will best achieve their company’s goals and dreams.

The future for this sport holds so much promise that I fail to see any obstacle which will hold back all of this momentum. We have enough turmoil in our current national series for dinosaur-powered motorcycles. I hope that things get ironed out quickly for the benefit of all of us involved in this movement.

Post Script
Originally, I was writing this article as a comment to Mark Gardiner’s 2-part Backmarker article on RoadRacerX.com. However, it grew legs of its own and I’ve decided to post a truncated version in the Backmarker comments, and post the full-tilt-boogey version here on the EM blog.

The minimum background must-reads on the TTXGP v. TT Zero v. e-Power Series are: Backmarker: TT Zero (Part I) and Electric Race Promoter Shocker (Part II), Plugbike.com: FIM Cuts Two Legs of Current e-Power Series, AsphaltandRubber.com: Electric Teams Just want to Race Against the Best

Sources: As hyperlinked
Image: Mavizen.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Help Wanted




Do you like to race motorcycles? Has your factory or privateer team been dissolved due to the crappy global economy? Maybe the team you were racing for no longer exists because the parent company killed off the brand? Or you are just sick and tired of the way your racing organization is running things? Possibly a “safety car” incident rubbed you the wrong way? Maybe are you an up-and-coming motorcycle roadracer looking to build your résumé and get noticed in the exciting world of motorcycle roadracing?

A career in electric motorcycle roadracing is waiting for you!

Exciting opportunities exist right now in the US, the UK, and Europe, so don’t delay! We need hungry roadracers from the United States and all over the world to join this exciting new industry! Escape the NASBIKE 9-5 rat-race and live your dream now!

Charge up your career!

Hone your skills, in the bold new frontier of electric motorsports. Compete against amazing riders on exotic motorcycles from all over the world. Get noticed and get the respect you deserve. Don’t play by rules “the man” creates. Create your own rules and enjoy the lifestyle you deserve!

Get on the fast track to your new career as an electric moto racing god/goddess right now. Don’t delay, call now. Operators are standing by!

TTXGP eGandPrix
FIM e-Power International Championship
http://www.emotorules.com/

Logos via: http://www.plugbike.com/ and http://www.brammofan.com/

Friday, January 22, 2010

EnvironMoto’s Friday Top Three! 21-JAN-2010


1 – Brammofan and Skadamo on EVCast Tomorrow (Saturday 23-Jan-2010)

Harry Mallin (@Brammofan, http://www.brammofan.com/ and others), John Adamo (@skadamo, http://www.plugbike.com/, and many others), will join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield (@aminorjourney) for a discussion of all things electric motorcycle, including TTXGP and Brammo motorcycles on EVCast. Tune in… or suck!

2 – KRON4 Interview with Azhar “The Czar” Hussain via Plugbike.com

Video from the TV interview this week with TTXGP founder (and creator of electric motorcycle roadracing as we know it), Azhar Hussain. Short, but worth hearing what Azhar has to say. Also worth browsing around the PlugBike site while you are there. Also check out @skadamo’s Asphalt and Rubber article on the sole FIM ePower series entrant, Epo-Bike.

3 – RoadRacerX: Backmarker and Umbrella Girl of the Year Contest

RRX’s Mark Gardiner (@backmarker) gives his summary of what he thinks the TTXGP rules should consist of in this weeks Backmarker. Have to say I agree. You also only have a few hours left to vote for 2009 MotoGP Umbrella Girl of the Year and win some RRX swag.

EnvironMoto Note:
By the way, if you aren’t on Twitter, you will not understand the @, and you are sooo 2008.

Photo: Azhar Hussain and the Mavizen race bike via PlugBike.com