A Look Back at the Record-Breaking Buckeye Bullet Experiments

by Brandon Jennings

Nowadays, electric cars and luxury go hand in hand. This is probably because the effects of climate change are becoming more and more real, and they have pushed companies to figure out ways to be sustainable while still appealing to the luxury market. Case in point, even Aston Martin is coming out with the Aston Martin DBX, a car so luxurious that Agent 007 himself is going to be driving one in the upcoming film. But back in 2016, a different car was making headlines – more concerned with making history than entering the market. Here, we will talk about the Buckeye Bullet experiments and their dramatic contribution to the world of electric cars.

The Team

The Buckeye Bullet is a series of experimental electric cars – a project by the students of Ohio State University. The students were composed of those under the College of Engineering and were led by Dr. Giorgio Rizzoni. The experiment got its name from ‘Buckeyes,’ which refers to the university’s symbol derived from the Ohio Buckeye trees. This was combined with ‘bullets’ to remind whoever hears about it that the car can go extremely fast – it also makes for a catchy name.

Working alongside the students was the French automobile company, Venturi, which was at the time trying to establish itself in the world of luxury electric cars. Ohio State University and Venturi sought to break the land speed record at the Bonneville Speedway, known as a common testing ground for the numerous records that have been set or attempted in the past.

The Challenge

The record they were trying to break was set in 2010 by California’s Rocky Robinson while riding the Top 1 Oil Ack Attack Streamliner. It was the world’s fastest motorcycle at the time and was able to hit speeds up to 605.596 km/h. This was a daunting challenge considering they were trying to beat it with an electric vehicle.

The Buckeye Bullet 1 was the result of their first attempt at beating the record. It had a carbon fiber body and was powered by 10,000 rechargeable c-cell batteries. It held a top recorded speed of 517.942 km/h, nowhere close enough to beating Robinson’s record. The second iteration of the car came in the form of the hydrogen fuel-cell powered Buckeye Bullet 2. Despite the changes, this second version only managed to hit speeds of approximately 461.038 km/h, which is way below the Buckeye Bullet 1’s speed. The Buckeye Bullet 3 would be the last iteration of the experiments, and it would also be the one to make history.

The Record

The Buckeye Bullet 3 included two key changes. They upgraded it to be a four-wheel-drive with a separate powertrain for each axle. The second change was the shift from 10,000 rechargeable c-cell batteries to 2,000 lithium-ion cells. And while this still wasn’t good enough to beat Rocky Robinson’s record, it did manage to shatter the land speed record for electric vehicles.

The Buckeye Bullet 3 beat the world record on September 19, 2016 — landing it a well-deserved spot on Lottoland’s list of the world’s most historic cars of all time. Driven by TRC pro, Roger Schroer, the vehicle reached speeds of up 549.211 km/h. This was a monumental victory for Ohio State University and Venturi, as they set the bar high for electric vehicles. Their remarkable feat is remembered by electric vehicle enthusiasts around the world, and their record still stands to this day.

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