A battery is something you rely on every time you start your car, but it’s not something you want to have to think about. We expect on-demand performance, no matter the situation, and feel disappointed when we are let down. Those feelings can be magnified on the racetrack, where the battery is often called upon to do more than just start the car.
From delivering juice to the ignition to ensuring a stable power supply to the powertrain control module, a battery is crucial in a modern race car. Just ask Anthony Bongiovanni, whose Bongiovanni Racing team fields several Cobra Jet Mustangs with various sanctioning bodies. One is even driven by his daughter, Michelle, who appeared in a Ford Performance promotional video.
That’s why Anthony turned to OPTIMA batteries for his racecars and became one of the company’s PowerPro Ambassadors. Wanting its products put to use by the enthusiasts who have real racing creditability, the program is a great strategy for the battery maker. It also works out well for Anthony, who has had great success with OPTIMA RedTops in his Mustang race cars.
“Our stock and super stock cars are running a lot on battery power (as opposed to the alternator) and the service is pretty severe. Basically the batteries get banged around a lot and we also need ones that can keep us going through multiple rounds without needing a charge,” he explained. “At the end of the day our batteries need to be strong mechanically and electrically and the OPTIMAs really work for us in both regards.”
Obviously the drag racing environment is tough on all the components, even the batteries. There is plenty of heat and vibration along with those occasional shock loads when drivers launch at high-rpm and all that torque hits the track via sticky racing slicks.
“We used different brands early on about seven years ago, but suffered a number of failures at the worst possible time,” he said. “OPTIMA Batteries provided a higher voltage for a longer period of time so we decided to make the switch. Since then, we haven’t had a failure yet!”
While they aren’t the lightest batteries on the market, the OPTIMA units are based on absorbent glass mat, spiral-cell construction, which is resistant to shocks and vibration.
“In our team’s experience, the severe service affects traditional and ultra-lightweight batteries in a negative way – we’ve had problems with them getting damaged and failing. Ultimately, they can’t handle the severe service we put them through and one even almost started a fire,” he said.“What’s great about OPTIMA Batteries, too, is that they’re non-spillable in addition to providing a lot of power and endurance.”
The OPTIMA technology is also said to deliver more power per pound than a traditional battery along with higher cranking output, which is important when starting high-compression engines or running all the technology onboard Cobra Jet Mustangs.
With modern race cars like ours, we have multiple computers and ignition modules that require a lot more power down the track. — Anthony Bongiovanni, Bongiovanni Racing
Besides the durability and output offered by these batteries, their sealed construction and maintenance-free characteristics mean they can be mounted almost anywhere, which really helps set up a drag-racing chassis.
“In a race car like ours, you have very limited space so the flexibility OPTIMA batteries offer is key,” Anthony enthused. “We have more options in where and how to mount the batteries to make the most weight transfer and traction and be able to get to the battery to charge it.”
Batteries love to be charged. It helps give them a longer life. They don’t, however, like to be overcharged, which can shorten their lives. As such, it pays to have a charger that will take proper care of your battery, which is why OPTIMA developed its Digital 400 and Digital 1200 chargers.
“One of the best advantages of OPTIMA Batteries is that they are fairly maintenance free and you don’t have to do much to keep them in top shape except charge them when they’re not in use,” Anthony Bongiovanni explained. “We also use the OPTIMA Chargers and they seem to work the best because they provide a charge rate that tops the battery off without overcharging them. So in the long run, you get the most battery life over time.”
Optima’s chargers make use of microprocessors to analyze the batteries and adjust the charging in response to its condition. They feature settings for traditional and AGM batteries. These chargers can de-sulfate batteries and resuscitate deeply discharged units.
Ultimately, that switch to OPTIMA batteries paid off in more than one way. Not only did Anthony avoid those previous failures and become and ambassador for the company, but its batteries actually helped his team win races.
“Your battery is definitely one of those essential products that can make-or-break you at certain points in a race. Two recent instances come to mind where my battery was crucial in helping me succeed,” he said. “First was the Dutch Classic at the end of last year — I was by myself and we ran seven rounds in total and four rounds in under and an hour with very little time to charge, but my OPTIMA battery kept it running consistently so I could win the race. The second was at a Gainesville Divisional Race where again, I was constantly running without a charge but it kept starting and giving me the power I needed in each round.”
You just never know what to expect at the racetrack, so that kind of reliability definitely pays dividends when you need to go rounds. These batteries are apparently up to the task of powering a high-demand drag car, so they can handle your street or street/strip machine —especially one configured with additional lighting, audio upgrades, bigger fuel pumps, etc.
For more on OPTIMA’s battery offerings, check out the company’s official site here.