February 27, 2019 11:25 pm

Edmontonian embraces new ride in electric racing series

Edmonton's Stefan Rzadzinski racing in his Jaguar I-Pace car in Mexico City.

Supplied by Stefan Rzadzinski (via Jaguar Racing)

Stefan Rzadzinski has raced in Indy Lights open wheel cars, NASCAR stock cars, and Porsches, but none of those cars could prepare the Edmontonian for the first time he drove an electric car out of the paddock and onto the track.

“I could hear myself… and it was like, ‘Wow, weird.'”

Rzadzinski is one of 12 drivers currently entered in the inaugural season of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, the first-ever international race series for a production battery-electric vehicle.

READ MORE: Edmonton race car driver beats 2 of the best at Race of Champions

Watch below: (From April 2018) An Edmonton racecar driver is back on the track again and he took Global’s John Sexsmith for a rush-hour cruise.

Since the vehicles are using lithium ion batteries instead of gas engines, the car is almost completely silent as it accelerates — something Rzadzinski had to adjust to.

“I was so taken aback by that the first time I drove it,” he says.

“As soon as you get rid of the noise, you just start tuning into your other senses of what you’re listening to, the tires and the brakes, the wind noise. And it’s funny, I almost don’t even notice it any more.”

Rzadzinski began making his inroads into the electric racing world during a trip to Hong Kong in 2017. That eventually led to his ride for the TWR Techeetah team.

Edmonton’s Stefan Rzadzinski (centre) with team principals Keith Smouth and Mark Preston in front of their TECHEETAH Jaguar i-Pace race car. (Supplied by Stefan Rzadzinski via Jaguar Racing)

Jaguar Racing

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The I-Pace eTrophy series is a 10-race world championship, and each race is 25 minutes long, plus one lap. There are no pit stops, and if your car’s battery runs out, your race is over.

Since the only noises you hear from the vehicles are the squealing tires, the racetracks can be located in the heart of communities.

“We’re going to be racing at the harbourfront in Hong Kong,” Rzadzinski says. “We were in ancient ruins in Saudi Arabia, and we’re downtown in so many cities.”

Rzadzinski says the electric racing world is essentially brand new, with the top electric series, Formula E, in just its fifth season.

But he notes there’s been a lot of support by teams to develop the new form of racing.

“Formula E has more manufacturers involved that anyone else, more than Formula 1. So for something that for a few years was a moonshot, a, ‘We’ll see how this goes’ [type of thing], it’s certainly taken hold.”

The name of Edmonton’s Stefan Rzadzinski is displayed on his TWR TECHEETAH Jaguar i-Pace race car. (Supplied by Stefan Rzadzinski via Jaguar Racing)

Jaguar Racing

So far, Rzadzinski has raced in Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and while the results weren’t what he was hoping for, the 26-year-old is hoping his luck could turn around with two races in China in March.

If it all works out, Rzadzinski says he could see himself competitively driving electric cars for a long time.

“As a kid growing up in the north side of Edmonton, the idea of racing for a world championship at the top flight of motorsports, whether it was Le Mans or IndyCar, or Formula 1… Formula E wasn’t an option then, but if I was a kid now, I think that would clearly be something I would be looking at, and something I’d strive to do.”

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