The Green Racing program, a motorsports competition geared toward raising awareness of fuel efficiency, alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, recently hit a major milestone as the state of Wisconsin played host to the 25th race in the Michelin Green X Challenge. It was the latest in a series of American Le Mans series (ALMS) races in which teams are rewarded not only for the speed in which they complete the race but the efficiency and emissions reduction that their vehicles display.
The 25th challenge occurred on August 17 at the Wisconsin Road Race Showcase. The results were tremendous, with vehicles using 48% less petroleum-based fuel than conventional racecars -- a new record for Green Racing. The race itself hit near-record television viewership with more than 900,000 households watching, raising awareness of clean alternative fuels across the country.
The celebration continued in Washington D.C. with a National Press Club event and vehicle display, at which the Energy Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan spoke about the Department’s role in Green Racing, along with leaders from EPA, ALMS, General Motors, Mazda, and Highcroft Racing. Participants were treated to an impressive vehicle display including a Dyson Racing Mazda Lola that runs on isobutanol (a liquid alcohol similar to ethanol) and a Corvette Racing C6.R that runs on cellulosic ethanol. The Green Racing Simulator, created by the Energy Department and Argonne National Laboratory, also allowed attendees to learn about alternative fuels and advanced technologies while playing a high-energy racing game.
“We are particularly happy to have the American Le Mans series working with us to help us accelerate technological development and really show the public what these technologies can do,” said Hogan. “The results that we’re seeing are exactly what we had hoped for.” She went on to cite examples such as General Motors’ Direct Injection System, which was used in American Le Mans Corvettes two years ago and is now available in multiple Buick and Chevrolet passenger sedans and trucks.
“We are immensely proud of the partnership between our series, our participating [original equipment manufacturers] and tire companies, and our government,” said ALMS CEO Scott Atherton. “The great race of the 21st century is for economic, socially responsible, sustainable transportation solutions, and we are proud of the role we have in that race.”
Although the series already includes a variety of fuels and technologies, including cellulosic ethanol, ultra-low-sulfur gas-to-liquid diesel, isobutanol and hybrid-electric technology, ALMS also plans to explore opportunities for introducing electric, compressed natural gas and additional bio-based fueled vehicles to the series.
In fact, the Baltimore Grand Prix hopes to go above and beyond “greening” just the vehicles, with the goal to become America’s most sustainable racing event. To reach this goal, they plan on placing solar panels on the Baltimore Convention Center, replacing some street lights with solar lighting, installing electric vehicle charging stations near the course and using hybrid-electric support vehicles.
For more information on the Green Racing series, which is sponsored by the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SAE International, please visit www.greenracingcup.org.