Brian Richardson’s Electric Motorcycle Takes A Second In California Race

Sonoma, CA – Brian Richardson of Blue Grass, Virginia has his electric motorcycle back on the national racing circuit this year. T eam Moto Electra finished tied for fourth last year in the North American Grand Prix series for electric motorcycles and qualified for the World Championships. Not bad for a low budget team from rural Virginia competing against companies with millions of dollars invested in their racing programs.

Richardson’s bike has both a new look and improved performance this year. Brian describes some of the changes he made over the winter.

“We decided that the bike needed wider, larger tires” says Richardson, “and in order to do that, we had to build a new frame. We wanted to keep the flavor of the old vintage race bike frame, the Norton Featherbed that was patented in 1949 and raced in the 50’s, so we built a new modern Featherbed frame, and then we got a larger motor and a larger controller. So we worked very hard on all that got a really nice looking variant on the bike and Wilt Simmons did a great paint job for us. Spent a lot of time adjusting all that, getting it just perfect, getting the bike looking really good for the sponsors.”

This year’s first race was the second weekend in May at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

“Then we drove the 3000 miles to California; we had never tested the bike, just like last year, just doing the best we could to get it on the track” says Richardson. “But when we got to California, we found a lot of the top teams didn’t even show up because they hadn’t test their bike. We took the bike on the track for testing, we figured we’d have enough time to put in maybe, 10 or 12 laps.”

“On the fifth lap, we had a catastrophic failure that caused the bike to crash at a high rate of speed; the ferring was completely destroyed, handlebars gone, footpads ripped off, shocks ground down to the bolts; and we packed everything up to come home.”

At that point one of the members of Brian’s team suggested that he take a break and get some rest before making a final decision.

“When I got up I went and told Thad we’re going to get this bike back on the track, we’re going to be in the race” says Richardson. “At that point, Thad shook my hand, gave me a big hug and said he was sorry that I had to experience all this, but this was indeed part of racing. We worked through the night and through the next morning and got the bike on the track without the streamlining and without being able to get our gearing where we wanted it. We still took a strong second.”

Under the most demanding of circumstances Brian Richardson, rider Thad Wolf and Team Moto Electra pulled out a strong finish in the first of the four races in this year’s North American Grand Prix series for electric motorcycles. The next race is in Loudon, New Hampshire the weekend of June 18. If past performance is any indicator, expect another strong effort from Brian and his team.

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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