Cyber Motorsports Chats with Doc
While at Thursday's Practice Day
by Earl Cook
October 8, 1998
Sparky and Crew
The Panoz Q9 Hybrid is a revolutionary racer in that it
has an electric motor and battery system in addition to its
gas-powered 6-liter Ford V-8. The system has been developed
by Zytek Systems Limited in the United Kingdom.
Doc Bundy, from Gainesville, Georgia is well-known to
sports car racing fans in the southeast. Doc at one time was
an instructor at the Road Atlanta Racing School. He has
driven many cars at the track including the Porsche 962 and
Corvette GTP. Doc has been involved with the Panoz racing
program from its inception and was a driver when the Panoz
GTR-1 was introduced at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1997. At
the Petit Le Mans, Bundy will be driving the Panoz Q9,
affectionately known as "Sparky". We had a fun and lively
conversation with Doc standing next to Sparky at its
paddock. The paddock did not seem that different from
'normal paddocks' except that there were large ducts venting
the battery and fans blowing on the car.
Cyber: Please tell me about Sparky.
Doc: Sparky is a hybrid... it is gas and electric.
You can see inside (pointing inside the Panoz Q9 Hybrid)
that the passenger compartment has the big battery in it.
The battery is quite big and it is the controller of the
electrics and determines how much electricity we can use.
The biggest thing we are dealing with right now is the
battery temperature. We have a very small window in which
we can get an electric boost. So, right now, we are playing
to see how much we can use and keep from overheating the
battery. (earlier, Doc had said that the Georgia
temperatures were warmer than where the testing in England
had been occurring so they were automatically working with a
This car has lots of switches in it and we have a lot of
options we can do. So, if we are overheating the battery,
we can go to a non-electric setting where the electric motor
is cut out to give the battery a chance to recover itself.
The car is a lot slower in this mode because it is used to
counting on the electrics... so it is a tradeoff. And the
other thing is too much boost where we use it to long and
drain the battery, then it starts cutting power because it
doesn't have enough juice.
So, we have to for a regen so that the electric motor
itself operates like a generator and charges the battery
back up. When we do that, it really makes the car slow
because the we are working against the gas motor.
Cyber: So, does the gas motor power the electric
motor during the regen?
Doc: In a way it is because it is driving the
wheels because the electric motor is turned into a generator
and it is attempting to hold the wheels back. In normal
operation, we use about 70% of the circuit with
power-assist... straightaways mainly. On the other parts
of the circuit, during braking, we are regenning. Actually,
it works out that about 28% of the time, we are regenning
the battery. That's our normal operation. What happens, if
you watch us sometime, you will see us wiggling coming into
the corner after we are on the brakes. That is the regen
cycle trying to slow the rear wheels. It is like braking
with a hand brake. It is a trick to drive and you just
gotta know what is going on to counter this and we just step
on a tiny bit of gas to balance to car.
Cyber: So it keeps you busy?
Doc: Yes, it is a bit busier to drive. It is
impressive in that it works. Our big disadvantage with the
current car system is that the current car was designed for
a different set of parameters and we are asking it to do
something entirely different. We have added nearly 300 lbs.
more to it, so the boost that we get is not enough to
overcome the weight. Right now, that is why we are not
quicker. And, if Don (Panoz) wants to continue on with a
second generation car that is designed around the system, so
it can be at minimum weight, if we can be more effective in
cooling our batteries since it is the controller right now,
and if we can address these things... then we will do well.
It has more promise for the future than I thought it did
before I drove it.
We did a lot of testing this past week where we ran a
straight week and tested every day. We got a lot of data at
that time, more than they had ever gotten at any point and
we pushed the car hard and we didn't have any major
failures, except for those teething and developmental
things. But mostly it has been around the questions: What
can the battery handle? What can we do with it? What can we
not do with it? That's mostly what we have learned. At the
same time, we have to figure out the handling of the car and
how can we handle the specific needs of the regen?
Cyber: So you need a propeller on the roof to
regen the battery?
Doc: Or some solar cells.
Cyber: So when you are able to get the boost, what
does it feel like?
Doc: You know it! You know it! You can feel it
pushing you in the back. It literally is almost like a
turbocharger and it gives you more zip down the
straightaway. When I went out for practice today, they put
it back into what we think is the race position. I was not
as zippy today as I was yesterday. The crew said, "Well,
Doc? What do you expect? We had to take some of that juice
Because we are looking at the long-term. The race is
obviously a long-distance race since it is going at least
eight hours and we don't have any data to help us. The
other day, I did a full fuel run and we didn't have any
problems during the run. It maintained until the battery
got a little hot and we turned it back, but we maintained
the times and we fell off from the beginning to the end only
about a second. But all cars do that. So, if we race
trouble-free, and we feel like we can keep it running like
that, who knows where we will finish?
We are not thinking that we are coming here to win. The
package is just not right for that. We just need data to
know what to do in the next generation.
Cyber: How many batteries do you have?
Doc: We have one battery, the normal 12 volt
battery and then the monster battery that is specific to the
Cyber: What happens if you need to change the
Doc: Then we have two spares and we can change the
battery. We would rather not because it is a long process.
And the thing weighs 200 lbs. We have to use a special lift
to get the battery in and out of the car. It would take
over an hour, so we don't want to do that and lose that much
Before that would happen, we would have the data and we
would go into straight regen and maybe do two laps of regen
to bring it back up. We would sacrifice lap times big time,
but we can recharge the battery.
Cyber: How is the mileage affected for the
Doc: During a two lap regen, it would be bad. But
the theory of the car is to assist in the fuel mileage.
But, at the weight that we are at, we are really not gaining
and we are about 10 minutes less than the normal GT1. So,
it is all because of the weight. If we were lighter, then
we would run 5 minutes longer than them.
Cyber: On a different subject. Last week I was
telling someone that the fastest car that I ever saw at a
specific point on the track at Road Atlanta was the Corvette
GTP and you were driving it.
Doc: Was it right before the dip?
Doc: That car... We were here testing and I
wondered how fast it was really going. So they said, "Give
us the tach reading through there and we will figure it
out." That car didn't have what we have today in a dash
that actually gives us a speed readout. At that time, we
didn't have those electronics. So, I gave him the RPM
reading... 7200, 7400 or whatever it was when I came in
during testing to make a change. So, I gave it to him and
he said he would figure it out and I went back out. When we
took a break, I asked him, "Did you ever have a chance to
calculate the speed?" He said, "Yeah, you were going 208
mph!" I said to him, "I think I would rather not have known
Because, I would never have believed that a car could run
over 200 mph through there. Especially not a big car and it
was a relatively big car. An open-wheel car, yes, but not a
big car. Yes, that car was VERY fast!
Cyber: I must of saw you when you were doing those
laps because you were flying!
Doc: That was an impressive car.
Brian Faulkner, who built the engine, during the past
couple of years, I have asked him, "Brian, you would never
tell us how much horsepower it developed." He said, "Often,
you would not let me turn it up." It was not the best
handling car and we just couldn't handle all the power that
it had. But occasionally, we would turn it up. Brian said,
"In qualifying, you were at 1200+ horsepower and over 900 hp
in the races."
It was a powerful car!
Cyber: So that speed of 208 mph, how does that
compare to the what the Jaguar XJR-14, the Nissans and
Toyotas were doing through there?
Doc: One thing about the Corvette is that it
handled high speed very well. At Daytona once, when we were
there testing, I said, "Let's figure out how fast we are
going." There, we hit 240 mph! The car was very fast in a
straight line. At the test, Wally Dallenbach was there with
me. Before he got in, I said, "Wally, this car is very
fast." Wally looked at me and said something like, "Doc, I
have been in fast cars before" and he took off. When he
came in, I opened the door and Wally's eyes were as big as
saucers. He grabbed my arm, starting shaking it and said,
"This sucker is FAST! This sucker is FAST!"
So, yes, that car was very fast.
Cyber: We thank you for your time and we wish you
and Sparky well in the race.
Sparky did well and was the only Panoz to finish
the race. The Panoz Q9 Hybrid started in 12th position and
finished in 12th position overall. In the GT1/SC1 class, the
Q9 Hybrid finished third behind the Porsche 911 GT1-Evo and
its sister Panoz GTR-1, that while leading the race, blew an
engine, but still completed 18 more laps than the Q9. It was
an impressive performance for such new