What’s a Biodiesel Guy Like You Doing in a Spark Ignition Place Like This?
by Joanne Ivancic (Advanced Biofuels USA) That’s the question that Greg Murphy wants you to ask as he pilots the year-old Dublin-based Murphy Prototypes endurance race team to contention in European Le Mans and American Le Mans Series’ races.
His passion, he explains, is motorsport . He drove in a variety of sports car classes in Ireland, the UK and Asia between 1998 and 2005 following in his father, Pat Murphy’s footsteps. As he sees it, that life-long passion for racing dovetails nicely with his fascination with his business interests in biodiesel and other renewable energy technologies: Biodiesel Production Ireland, Ltd., Greenwell Resources and SolarPrint.
That connection might not make much sense unless you understand the American Le Mans Series’ philosophy of racing as a test bed for “green” automotive innovation.
Thus, campaigning a Nissan-powered Oreca enables him not only to return to the race tracks he loves, but to ride today’s focus on improved efficiencies and fuels to tomorrow’s winning race entries.
Notice the team name isn’t Murphy Racing; but rather Murphy Prototypes, with the emphasis on testing new technologies. And the logo highlights this again with the subtext “Renewables, Aerospace, Automotive.”
Murphy considers this initial opportunity essentially “stepping into the breach” created when Barry Gates pulled out of RLR. Now he is walking on the way to running with improvements like biodiesel fuel, hybrid technologies, and “third generation solar” panels helping power the vehicles.
Next year, he explains, LMP2 will have some diesel powered vehicles. He’s been watching the developments at Mazda in particular. He’d like to use biodiesel in “as high blends as possible” in his next LMP2 car.
He had been involved with renewable energy for quite a while when, in 2005, he experienced an Audi racing with BTL (biomass-to-liquid) diesel. More than just a scientific Eureka! moment for him; he describes the moment like others describe a spiritual revelation. Here was the merging of his love, life and passion.
It’s been a pretty positive year with a third place finish at Spa, a satisfying if not complete race at the 24 Hours at le Mans, and a podium finish at the 6 Hours of Donington.
To round out his first year as a team owner, Murphy is having a great time with engineering support from Team RLR M-Sport in the US preparing for Petit Le Mans, a 10-hour or 1000 mile (whichever comes first) road race in the rolling hills of Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
It’s been a year of promising experiences that encourage this sparkling-eyed Irishman to eagerly anticipate phenomenal advances in renewable energy that he will help test on the world’s race tracks.
Full disclosure: notice the Advanced Biofuels USA logo on the 118 Murphy Prototypes car racing at Petit Le Mans? A donation from Greg Murphy for promotional purposes to benefit this nonprofit educational organization.