Golf carts are not the first vehicle you think of when you hear the word racecar, but one manufacturer is turning the industry on its heels by setting Guinness Book records for speed.
Even though the golf cart market has extended outside the sport with the advent of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) and low-speed vehicles (LSVs), which are legal on most city streets, fast golf carts are extremely rare. This, however, is not stopping Plum Quick Motors, which beat its previous speed record for golf carts by hitting 118 mph.
Plum Quick Motors Sets the Bar
Plum Quick Motors is a family-operated business founded by Carson Steen and his two sons, Ricky, and Robby. The story goes that they were wondering how to take advantage of the new electric cart market and the recent demand by golfers for fast golf carts. Steen and his sons decided at that point to see just how far, or fast, they could go.
In 2012, Plum Quick Motors pulled together its team of top-notch designers and engineers to build the fastest golf cart known to humankind. Around the same time, Robby Steen got on the phone with Guinness World Records to petition the organization to open a new class of world record: fastest golf cart.
The board of Guinness World Records was agreeable with Steen’s idea, and a new record was created as per his request. Plum Quick Motors spent the next year developing the fastest electric golf cart at the time, and on October 4, 2013, it was taken to legendary Darlington Dragway in Hartsville, South Carolina, for speed trials.
Later that day, Plum Quick Motors made it official and was logged into the Guinness Book of World Records for obtaining a top speed of 103.65 mph in an electric golf cart. However, that was not enough to appease the Steens, and they immediately set about to build a more powerful electric motor and use it to create an even faster golf cart.
A New Speed Record Is Set
Shortly after setting the world record, Robby Steen, his father, and brother laid out the plans for a new and improved golf cart. One that could accelerate much faster and reach a higher top speed, and other manufacturers soon joined in the race. To meet the standards of Guinness World Records, the Steens knew they would have to start with a traditional golf cart, and they chose a 2010 E-Z-GO to serve as their base model.
While building the new cart, Carson and Robby Steen were interviewed by a local newspaper that had picked up the story. When asked why they were undertaking such a task, Carson replied, “We’re just country folk. We are not smart enough to know what we can’t do.” He then followed up with a serious answer to the question. “We like to do things nobody else does,” he said.
Carson, Robby, and Rick estimate that 90 percent of the EZGO golf cart was still stock after they finished working on it. It was originally built for the links, and when they purchased the cart, it was ready for 18 holes of golf and not much more. It even came with two bags of clubs, a golf ball washer, and extra golf tees.
With the exception of the 80 pounds of lead weights attached to the front bumper for improved stability and the racing safety harnesses for passengers, the additions and modifications the Steens made to the car were all underneath the body. One of these modifications was a bank of supercharged lithium ion battery cells, and another was a high-performance motor custom built by the Steens. However, the part that truly turned this E-Z-GO into a racing beast was a high-amperage, high-voltage controller from Zilla.
When Robby Steen finally got the car on the track on October 31, 2014, he knew they had built a monster. After all had been said and done, the car reached a top speed of 118.76 mph, hitting the quarter mile in 12.24 seconds.
“It was a scary ride,” said Robby in an interview after breaking his own record. “There was nothing around you to protect you.”
According to Robby, he was only using 80 percent of the batteries’ power when he hit 118 mph, and he is confident he could’ve gotten the golf cart up to 130 mph. The only thing stopping him was a lack of stability at such high speeds, and he was not prepared to give his life for the record at that moment. “It was more dangerous than people realized,” Robby stated matter-of-factly.
Carson knew exactly what his son was talking about and stood behind his decision to lay off the throttle. He had accompanied Robby on a test run earlier in the day that reached 95 mph. “I felt like my head was going to pop off,” he said in regards to the force of the acceleration.
Another golf cart manufacturer also tried to beat the record in 2014, but the driver couldn’t get his golf cart to go any faster than 97 mph.
Looking to the Future
Even though Robby Carson was concerned for his safety, the family is not ready to give up on their dreams of building the fastest golf carts in the world. They now have their sights on a model that can easily reach speeds of 130 mph to 150 mph and their ultimate goal is to build a cart that can top out at 200 mph like a dragster.
For the golf cart dragster, the Steens will have to design a new body with a tubular frame, and a roll cage will need to be installed to protect the driver. To reach speeds of 200 mph or greater, they plan to connect three motors to the drive train, and they will be using a parachute to help with braking.
About Plum Quick Motors
Carson Steen established Plum Quick Motors in 1981 with his two sons, and the company is currently headquartered in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Carson began operating an automotive garage when he was only 14 years old, but after getting married, he took a job at Springs Cotton Mills. Carson holds several patents, including one for an electric drive axle and the company sells three primary motors: the Bandit, Executioner, and Assassin.