Jun 5, 2013
© 2015, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
From a press release
issued by Lightning Motorcycles
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: Carlin Dunne (5) in action at Pikes Peak in 2012. Photo by Jamey Price, courtesy of Lightning Motorcycles.
Historic moment as current motorcycle racing champion leaves gas bike to ride solar powered motorcycle.
Carlin Dunne will race the solar powered electric motorcycle against the establishment, taking the gas vs. electric battle to the infamous Pikes Peak hillclimb later this month.
San Carlos, California - Lightning Motorcycles, has announced today that it has just signed top pro motorcycle racer Carlin Dunne for the heart stopping Pikes Peak race in June.
Dunne, the current all-time record holder and two-time consecutive [class] champion of the legendary race, has chosen the Lightning electric superbike as his weapon of choice to go for his attempt at a third consecutive victory and a shot at breaking his own record time.
"I have a chance to be a part of something even bigger, to prove something to the rest of the world by riding this amazing electric bike. And I have to say, I've been testing it for a month, and it's insane. It's power and acceleration is like nothing I've ever ridden. When you light that fuse, hang on," said Dunne.
Lightning is no stranger to the winner's podium. In fact Lightning is the dominant electric racing team, having never lost a race it entered in 2012 including Laguna Seca, and Le Mans, France. Lightning also holds the land speed record for fastest production motorcycle in the world at 215 mph with a fast run of 218 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
But Lightning's performance isn't the only astounding thing about their race bike. The Lightning superbike is powered exclusively by solar energy through the combined technology developed by SMA, Trina Solar, and EnerDel Lithium batteries. That in turn will be used to fuel the motorcycle’s onboard battery pack, which Lightning calls the most powerful and safest currently available. This groundbreaking technology makes it the first racing vehicle in major motorsports events to leave a zero carbon footprint.
The hair raising Pikes Peak Hill Climb is the 2nd oldest race in America next to the Indy 500, and it is without a doubt the most dangerous. In fact no other event in the world offers the potential for catastrophic crashes like this event does. The track runs up the side of Colorado's most famous 14,000 foot mountain, with frightening cliffs on either side of the track. The local joke among racers is "if you make a mistake and go over the side, you'll die of starvation before you hit the ground."
The track itself measures 12.42 miles (19.99 km) over 156 turns, climbing 4,720 ft (1,440 m) from the start at Mile 7 on Pikes Peak Highway, to the finish at 14,110 ft (4,300 m), on grades averaging 7%. It previously consisted of both gravel and paved sections, however as of August 2011, the highway was fully paved making it a full road race, and as a result, dramatically increased speeds.
But Carlin Dunne was bread to be its champion.
Born in Santa Barbra California to a family of motorcycle racers, Carlin first started riding motorcycles at age 2 and has yet to stop. But it was realized he was a prodigy on two wheels when he started racing BMX at 7 years old, won his first race, and by age 12 had racked up over 100 wins at expert level. At 10 years old he started motocross where he won his third ever race, and at 13 he started road racing, winning his first championship at age 16. Carlin was well on his way to becoming a household name when he suffered a severe 120 mile per hour crash at Daytona, leaving him with a severely compound fractured femur. During his year long recovery, a dear friend and fellow racer was killed in a similar racing accident, which lead Carlin to re evaluate his future. He chose to retire from pro racing and the elderly age of 18.
Then, another friend and fellow racer, introduced him to the most grueling motorsports race of all, the 24 hour Baja 1000. Carlin couldn't resist. And with his blue collar work ethic, was back in shape, studied, practiced, and back in competition placing an impressive 4th.
Carlin was then introduced to mountain biking where again followed the pattern, turned pro and went to the top of the sport, literally conquering mountains.
Now, Along way from those childhood tracks, and with the stakes much higher, the charismatic 6'4" 30 year old Dunne has had all of those lessons, disciplines and hard work come to a razor sharp point - the Pike's Peak Hill Climb, where again he did what he always does - showed up his first year as a rookie, and won. Then backed it up his second year with another consecutive win, this time setting the current all time course record.
"I still can't believe our good fortune in teaming up with a guy like Carlin. Not only is he the top talent, but he's a great guy. I'd root for him even if he were riding for someone else. But this is much bigger story than Carlin, or Lightning. This is a historic moment for the world. It's the tipping point in global transportation as we know it. The very best guy in the world at this race who won and set records on gas bikes, has chosen us, an electric motorcycle company, to try and beat his own records. Combustion engines are long from dead, but they were just passed by in performance," said Art Haynie, director of marketing for Lighting.
Richard Hatfield, Founder and CEO said, "This technology will drive the future of racing. Gas engines have been around for over 100 years and pushed to their limits - and they’re at a late stage of development. But we're just starting with this. It's like we're in the early 1900's all over again when it comes to the development of electric racing - and we're already breaking new ground. We always knew what we had in the performance of our electric bikes, but it takes time for the world to comprehend and accept a huge change like this. It took 50 years for people to accept a car was better transportation than a horse. Now here is the top rider in the world at this race, at the top of his game, putting his seal of approval on us by leaving combustion and going electric."
And Hatfield might be right. Only 100 years ago, horses were still ruled global transportation. The late 19th Century heavy thinkers concluded that automobiles were unreliable, cost too much, will never be practical, need fueling stations, are a rich man's toy. Sound familiar?
Notice has been served. Electric transportation is here. And mountains are next in Lightning’s sights.
Haynie finishes by saying: "The President of Michigan Savings Bank said only 100 years ago: 'The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.'"
About Lightning Motorcycles
Lightning Motorcycles was founded by Richard Hatfield and a group of Silicon Valley engineers dedicated to the belief that world class performance is compatible with clean tech transportation, in San Carlos, Calif. in 1999. By 2009, the company had created the Fastest Super Bike in the world and set the land speed record in 2010 at 215.960 mph, with a best recorded speed of 218.637. The team broke its own record in 2011 with a top speed of 218.637. Since then, Lightning Motorcycles has established its dominance competing and winning in multiple internationally recognized superbike races. The company’s mission is to develop the most innovative competition race bike and use that technology to produce and distribute affordable two wheel electric vehicles to commuter markets worldwide.
The SMA Group generated sales of €1.7 billion in 2011 and is the global market leader for solar inverters, a key component of all PV plants. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented in 21 countries on six continents. The Group employs more than 5,500 people worldwide, plus a number of temporary employees that varies on a seasonal basis. SMA's broad product portfolio includes a compatible inverter for every type of module on the market and for all PV plant sizes. The product range includes inverters both for grid-connected PV plants and for off-grid systems. SMA can therefore provide an ideal inverter solution for all plant sizes and types. Since 2008, the Group's parent company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for excellence as an employer and in 2011 and 2012 achieved first place in Germany's nationwide Great Place to Work® competition.