El Diablo: Miata Style

December 23rd, 2013

2001 Mazda Miata MX5

An average car will run a quarter-mile drag race in 15–16 seconds. That’s not a blistering pace, but it’s just enough to give a slight rush while accelerating up an on-ramp before settling into a steady stream of 65-mile-an-hour commuters.

The Mazda Miata, while relatively sporty and fun to drive, typically falls somewhere within that average time in stock, off-the-showroom-floor form. It’s nothing spectacular, and it won’t win many drag races, but the time is good enough to warrant the designation of “sports car.”

Barely.

A quick quarter-mile time in the Miata might fall somewhere in the 11–13-second range. When that stock speed just isn’t fast enough, upgrades can be applied, and the Miata, like any car, can become a drag racer.

An extreme case would be taking a Miata, stripping it completely of its powertrain, and replacing it with a source of power sure to embarrass even the most seasoned of racers.

The Miata is actually a perfect car for aftermarket alterations. The car is simple, light, and when properly equipped, fast and agile. Take out the internal combustion engine and replace it with a series of electric battery packs, though, and the relatively tame Miata becomes El Diablo of the drag strip.

I’ve only recently learned of an organization called the National Electric Drag Racing Association, which as one might assume, likes to drag-race electric vehicles. The group’s signature accomplishment so far is taking a Miata and installing a:

333-volt lithium-ion battery pack with two Zilla controllers and a park of forklift motors driving the rear wheels. While the team initially planned to only run 900 amps down the track, Metric raised the power level to 1100 amps, intent on flexing his new battery pack.

The results are impressive, to say the least.

The electric Miata ripped off an incredible 9.12-second quarter mile at a blistering 145 mph. The Tesla Roadster, unmodified, runs the quarter mile in a tick under 14 seconds.

Electric cars, with all that extra torque, are without a doubt the kings of the drag strip. It makes me wonder:

What other cars would be good to convert to electric and tackle the race track? I’d like to see the Honda S2000 get the nod!

-tgriffith

Used Mazda Miata
Used Honda S2000

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