June 10, 2023

Model Sport

Racers, mechanics, tinkerers converting classic cars to EVs

DENVER (AP) — When Kevin Erickson fires up his 1972 Plymouth Satellite, a faint hum replaces what is normally the sound of pistons pumping, gas coursing through the carburetor and the low thrum of the exhaust.

Even though it’s nearly silent, the classic American muscle car isn’t broken. It’s electric.

Erickson is among a small but expanding group of tinkerers, racers, engineers and entrepreneurs across the country who are converting vintage cars and trucks into greener, and often much faster, electric vehicles.

Despite derision from some purists about the converted cars resembling golf carts or remote-controlled cars, electric powertrain conversions are becoming more mainstream as battery technology advances and the world turns toward cleaner energy to combat climate change.

“RC cars are fast, so that’s kind of a compliment really,” said Erickson, whose renamed “Electrollite” accelerates to 0-60 mph (0-97 kph) in three seconds and tops out at about 155 mph (249 kph). It also invites curious stares at public charging stations, which are becoming increasingly common across the country.

Classic Vehicles Electric Conversions
Kevin Erickson’s electrified 1972 Plymouth Satellite is seen at his Commerce City, Colo., home on Sept. 20, 2022. Erickson is part of a small but expanding group of tinkerers, racers, engineers, and entrepreneurs across the country converting vintage cars and trucks into greener, often much faster, electric vehicles.

Thomas Peipert / AP

At the end of 2019, Erickson, a cargo pilot who lives in suburban Denver, bought the car for $6,500. He then embarked on a year-and-a-half-long project to convert the car into a 636-horsepower electric vehicle (475 kW), using battery packs, a motor and the entire rear subframe from a crashed Tesla Model S.

“This was my way of taking the car that I like — my favorite body — and then taking the modern technology and performance, and

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Modification of RC Toys
Mooresville RC facility bringing in novice and pro racers

Mooresville RC facility bringing in novice and pro racers

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A small Iredell County city is the capital of North Carolina racing, but it’s not just NASCAR.

Mooresville is home to one of the only indoor remote-controlled racing facilities in the Carolinas. The facility opened in 2020 and filled a void from when a prior RC car track closed.

Monday nights are typically the biggest race of the week at Race City Speed Factory. The race has all the pre-race favorites at a typical racetrack. Think of a mandatory drivers meeting and national anthem precursor before the drivers start the race.

Mooresville RC facility bringing in novice and pro racers
RC racers come to Mooresville from all over. It’s not uncommon to see an occasional NASCAR driver in the shop.

“Right now, we are one of the biggest One RC racetracks in the country. We are one of the biggest retailers for them,” Race City Speed Factory owner Matt Murphy said.

The cars aren’t your toy store remote-controlled cars. They’re smaller, faster, and have customizable setups.

“They have adjustable suspensions,” Murphy said. “There are different types of tires, different grip, softness, and hardness of tires, different spring rates. We can fully adjust these cars to your desire and handling characteristics.”

Murphy opened Race City Speed Factory in 2020, and his passion for RC car racing stretches back 20 years.

“At one point, I was gifted a used Radio Shack RC car, and to me, that thing was the coolest thing ever,” Murphy added.

Race City Speed Factory owner Matt Murphy has had a passion for rc racing for more than 20 years.

Racing conditions ideal

While the RC cars are nothing like the toys from those big box stores, there is a similarity regarding the racing surface — carpet. There is a reason for it.

“The track is very consistent. It doesn’t change

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RC Car