I rode my motorcycle out to Portland International Raceway to watch the future of racing in a World Without Oil. Electrathon America held electric vehicle races and OHPV had human-powered vehicle races. I was surprised at how fast these things could go. The PIR track is about 1.9 miles, and the electric vehicles lapped it pretty quickly. One observer said they were averaging over 50 miles per hour.
"Electrathon is a national competition for lightweight, high efficiency electric vehicles. Power is limited to 67 lbs. of production lead acid batteries, which amounts to a little more than one horsepower over the hour. The rules are simple enough to allow a wide variety of creative designs, and although it's open to everyone, most of the competitors are school teams because the sport offers an affordable test of imagination, skill, discipline and teamwork. And, striving to foster an ethic of efficiency, it promotes the development of alternative energy transportation in compelling style." [link]
It was a strange feeling to be at a racetrack watching a race where everything is so silent. I'm used to having to wear earplugs if I'm close to the track, but that was not necessary here, in fact people's conversations practically drowned out the noise from the passing vehicles.
The human-powered vehicles also went surprisingly fast. Most were variations on recumbent bicycles or trikes. There were tandems, too, and one bike that used both foot pedals and a hand crank system at the same time.
I also watched the human-powered vehicles compete in a 1/8 mile drag race. It was a fun day at the track, and the quiet atmosphere and lack of exhaust fumes made it more pleasant than traditional gas-powered racing.