By Steve Turner
Photography courtesy of E3 Spark Plugs
Let‘s face it, you probably don’t think about your car’s battery until it lets you down. In racing, that could mean you don’t make the next pass or the next lap, and you lose a race. Moreover, today’s racing rides are laden with gear that pulls major current, which can tax the battery and lead to less-than-optimal performance if the battery isn’t up to the task.
To ensure that your race car is ready for action at a moment’s notice, a performance battery is the answer. Of course, most batteries are heavy, and some aren’t sealed. Neither of those things make them ideal for racing applications. To that end, E3 Spark Plugs is moving into the high-performance battery market with its line of E3 Lithium batteries.
“The comparable automotive battery from us weighs 17 pounds, which is still, by the way, like a third of what an actual lead-acid traditional battery weighs. The motorsports battery weighs approximately seven pounds,” Rob Fisher, Vice President of Motorsports, Marketing & Business Development at E3, explained. “So when we get to the race application, we’re dropping another 10 pounds off the battery. So those kinds of advantages become super-key for the racer for the obvious reason. Now I can put weight where I want it, not where the battery has to sit.”
Reducing weight is as good as adding horsepower, and being able to mount the battery in the ideal location can promote better traction. Both of those are a plus in any racing environment. However, with these batteries, you can also ensure there is plenty of juice on demand.
“Weight is the primary reason why a racer makes the move from lead acid or AGM to a lithium battery—not necessarily E3—but any lithium. It’s all about the weight and then it’s about the cranking power. To give you an example, if you take a typical ARCA race car, it’s very similar to a NASCAR cup car. It runs an EFI engine, so it has eight coils, eight injectors, 12 cooling fans, a fully electronic dash, and a CPU, The whole car is basically electronic,” Fisher said. “Typically, those guys will run two 16-volt, AGM batteries. They need that much power because the compression of the motor, all the electronics, and oh by the way, they run the alternators on those engines. If they stall, or if they’re shut off when they’re hot, they are incredibly difficult to start.”
While it is impressive that the E3 Lithium battery is capable of excelling in such a demanding environment, it can even do so if your ride runs without an alternator. It can do this, because lithium batteries also deliver 13.2 volts until they are discharged, where lead-acid battery voltage tapers off with the state of charge.
“When we replaced the two 16-volt AGM batteries in that race car, they pulled the alternator off the car and it ran without an issue. So now I remove the alternator, which is good for two to three horsepower on that motor. Well, two to three horsepower at Daytona is freaking huge. So when you look at it, I’ve got a lighter product. It’s delivering more cranking amperage. It can replace two 16-volt AGM batteries with Lithium, so I basically took 80 pounds and turned it into nine.”
Lest you think that shedding that much weight would hurt the performance or longevity of the batteries, that is not the case. They are more potent per pound and they last up to the three times longer than a lead-acid battery, as evidenced by the four-year limited warranty carried by the E3 Lithium units.
“The energy density of the lithium cells that we’re using is so much higher than some of the other ones out there. The technology that we use actually is coming from the aviation industry,” Fisher said. “It goes back to two things when you’re talking about providing power for all those electronics—quality of the lithium cell, and then something we didn’t talk about, the battery-management system.”
So not only are they light and potent, but some of the E3 Lithium batteries, like the SuperLite 1600, include a built-in, double-redundant Battery Management System. This BMS offers protection from cell imbalance, overcharging, over-discharging, short-circuiting, and excessive cranking. It will also tell users when the battery has a fault via an LED indicator, which can also be wired to dash-mounted light so you always know if the battery up to snuff.
“The BMS ensures that you’re getting, in the case of our big battery, a consistent 13.2 volts, 1,600 cranking amps and 32-amp hours of capacity all the time. It’s got a little mini-computer inside of every one of these batteries and it maintains that power delivery,” he added. “They are very consistent over the course of the battery’s life, so when you put it into these amp-sapping race cars, it can stand up to the challenge because of the technology behind the BMS.”
For the most demanding racing applications, E3 offers the aforementioned SuperLite 1600, which is also known as “the beast” due to its 1,600-amp capabilities. It weighs in at 8.9 pounds. For less demanding applications, there is also the 1,200-amp, 6.9-pound SuperLite 1200, which is ideal for crate-motor machines found in the Chevrolet Performance Stock and G-Force Racing Transmission Coyote Stock ranks.
With both spark plugs and batteries in its product line covering a wide range of drag racing applications, it is no surprise the E3 is also the official battery and spark plug of both the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals and the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals series.
“Sanctions like NMRA and NMCA are the backbone of racing today,” Fisher added. “…I always talk about the pyramid of motorsports at the very top you have NHRA, NASCAR and Formula One. The base of that pyramid is, in drag racing particularly, is NMRA and NMCA. That is the foundation of racing. Without that foundation, the whole pyramid falls over. So it’s important for us as a company to support the foundation.”
E3 Spark Plugs