Future of Green Racing Uncertain
by Robert E. Kozak (Advanced Biofuels USA) John Dagy’s September 1st SpeedTV.com article that broke the story of NASCAR merging their GRAND-AM sports car series with the American Le Mans racing series probably didn’t mean anything to people in the biofuels industry.
It should. And here’s why.
The American Le Mans (ALMS) sportscar racing series has been the pioneer (and premiere) marketer of advanced biofuels in car racing and performance applications. As we’ve written about in the past, production sports cars including Chevy Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs, Ferraris, and Chrysler Vipers use only Cellulosic E-85. In the prototype categories, experimental sports cars use everything from E-85 to bio-butanol including synthetic diesel and flywheel based hybrid systems.
In every ALMS race, Michelin tires sponsors the Michelin GreenX Challenge.TM The winner is the most energy efficient team that also scores a podium finish. The GreenX ChallengeTM began in Europe and came to North America in 2008. In addition to Michelin, the US DOE and EPA are co-sponsors. Because so many ALMS fans are supporters of renewable energy and biofuels, teams work hard to win the GreenX.
In contrast, the GRAND-AM series does not contain any “Green Racing” elements. It doesn’t even use basic E-10 fuel.
Fuel: The current specifications requires the use of Sunoco 260 GTX, a premium unleaded E-0 racing gasoline in all racing cars, sports cars and prototypes.
Prototype Innovations: The current Daytona Prototype specifications used in the GRAND-AM series were designed to reduce costs. The result is very restricted design and engine parameters that do not encourage technical innovation or energy efficiency. And, as stated above, all Daytona Prototypes, required to run on E-0 racing gasoline for reasons of cost reductions, require the use of large displacement non-turbocharged engines.
So, if current GRAND-AM rules were to continue, the possibility of watching production based sports cars using advanced biofuels and innovative energy reduction systems in the future is very uncertain. (Sources tell us that NASCAR is actually buying ALMS and this is not a merger of equals between GRAND-AM and ALMS.)
However, there have been rumors and non-specific statements in the past year from GRAND-AM that they are looking at different engine technologies including turbocharging for some time in the future.
Furthermore, NASCAR has very successfully switched to E-15 for their primary stockcar series and has taken other “Green” actions at their tracks. So, there may be some hope.
This hope will only become a reality if people from the biofuel industry and supporters of biofuels express the case for “Green Racing” directly to www.grand-am.com (386.310.6500).
READ MORE (SpeedTV) and MORE (Racer Magazine) and MORE (Michelin GreenX Challenge) and MORE (GRAND-AM Roadracing) and MORE (ALMS.com) and MORE (NASCAR.com includes video) and MORE (Dyson Racing) and MORE (SpeedTV includes video of press conference) and MORE (ALMS) and MORE / MORE (ALMS)