Chasing 400: The history of the Buckeye Bullet
The quest for a landspeed record started with a request. In 1993, Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair Larry Kennedy asked then Assistant Professor Giorgio Rizzoni to advise a new electric vehicle student racing team. This week, a 20-member student team is preparing—and hoping—to propel the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 to reach 400mph and beat their own record for the fastest electric vehicle in the world.
The Road to the Record
Ohio State’s involvement in electric racing began in the Formula Lightning series. Led by Rizzoni, who is now director of the Center for Automotive Research, Ohio State raced their vehicle, the Smokin’ Buckeye, from 1993-2000. The series was a collegiate open wheel formula style race that traveled to major racetracks around the country. Thirty-one
|The Smokin’ Buckeye in the pits during a Formula Lightning race|
As the Formula Lightning series was phased out in 2000, the team found themselves with a great deal of electric racing experience, but no venue in which to put it to use.
At the team’s farewell dinner, Jeff Kletrovets, vice president of Shoemaker Electric, the Smokin’ Buckeye’s title sponsor, asked, “How fast has an electric car gone?” Answer: 245mph. To that Jeff responded, “If we build a custom motor, can Ohio State design a vehicle to break the record?” That very night they sketched out the framework for the Buckeye Bullet on the back of a napkin at a local Mexican restaurant. The Buckeye Bullet was born, or at least conceived.