EVENTS & PROMOTIONS: AN ELECTRIFYING RACE: COLLEGE-BUILT VEHICLES SHUN PETROCHEMICALS IN CLEVELAND

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Competitors in next week's Cleveland Electric Formula Classic are plugging into the quietest of car races.

Dubbed "Silent Thunder," the fourth annual race of electric cars is set for July 12. Nine autos will compete in the 50-kilometer race.

Reaching speeds of more than 100 mph and teeming with sponsors' logos, the cars pull into pit stops for furious battery exchanges before tearing back onto the track, cheered on by the college student teams and faculty members who design and build the vehicles, plus hundreds of fans and sponsors.

SHOWCASE FOR TECHNOLOGY

Organizers of the race, which serves as a showcase for new technologies in the emerging electric auto industry, hope to get national cable TV coverage this year.

"It's drawing more attention every year as the level of sophistication of electric cars evolves," said a spokesman for race sponsor Illuminating Co., a major electric utility for Northeast Ohio.

The Cleveland Classic is the last event in the four-race ABB University Spec Series, sponsored by Europe-based electronics manufacturer Asea Brown Boveri.

The Classic, sanctioned by Sports Car Club of America Pro Racing, is being held this year in conjunction with the Medic Drug Grand Prix, a Championship Auto Racing Teams event.

The electric autos are driven by professional race car drivers but tended by university student pit crews, sponsors and the manufacturers of electric car components.

A long list of sponsors includes Lincoln Electric Co., Motorola, Loctite Corp., Transportation Research Center and a local Sears Automotive Center.

Competitors this year include defending champion team Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis, The Ohio State University, the University of Notre Dame, Bowling Green State University (which has two cars entered), University of Oklahoma, West Virginia University, Wright State University and GMI Engineering

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