Bluegrass, Va Electric Motorcycle Takes Seventh Place In Iconic California Race

Salinas, CA – From Monterey, Virginia to Monterey, California, is a journey of 2,760 miles across the United States. That’s how far Blue Grass resident Brian Richardson and Team Electra drove towing their electric motorcycle in late July, to compete at one of the most important racing weekends of the year, the Mazda Laguna Seca MotoGP. Located between the Monterey peninsula and nearby Salinas, California, this track has hosted some of the biggest races in the country for more than 60 years.

In addition to Richardson, the team owner and builder of the Electra, three James Madison University students and faculty member Dr. Rob Prins also made the trip from Virginia. Brian Richardson sets the scene at Laguna Seca.

“The MotoGP weekend is really the biggest racing weekend for normal motorcycles,” says Richardson. “The MotoGP are all the best teams from the United States, but also from Europe and around the world. I’d actually thought of skipping the race, but our rider Thad Wolf said that if you haven’t been to a MotoGP, this isn’t something you want to miss.”

Team Electra’s motorcycle was looking good during the practice laps, however, the fickle finger of fate was about to intervene.

“We got out on the track and started our practice; everything was going well,” he says “it sorta felt like something had been wrong with this motor right from the start. Sure enough when we sent him out for the last couple of laps, the bike didn’t show back up. We found out that Thad had pulled off on another portion of the track with the motor in flames. Once again, we thought we had driven 2700 miles for nothing.”

With their only motor in ashes, it looked grim for the team from Virginia, but several phone calls turned up an electric motor that Brian thought just might fit into the chassis. Brian headed 170 miles north to Sebastopol, California, home of Thunderstruck Motors to pick up the new motor. A bad front tire almost prevented him from getting back to Laguna Seca. The team worked for hours to get the new motor installed for the qualifying laps and just made it onto the track in time.

“We got there with about half an hour to spare; got it out into qualifying,” he says. “The following day was the race; Thad was alone in 7th position. He might have taken sixth with the other motion, I’d like to think that at least it would have been more of a race.”

With this excellent showing against the best electric motorcycles in the world, Team Electra found itself second in the points standings going into the last electric motorcycle grand prix race of the 2011 North American season. Earlier this week Team Electra packed their electric motorcycle and all their gear and hit the road to cover the 2000 miles to the Miller Motorsports Track, just west of Salt Lake City, Utah. Brian Richardson has said that the Utah race may be his last in the electric motorcycle grand prix series. Regardless of whether Team Electra competes in next year’s races, there’s no question that the electric motorcycle from Blue Grass, Virginia has made its mark among the world’s best.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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