You may not have seen her for a while, but that doesn't mean that the CT Project G.R.E.E.N. team has been ignoring our little red Camaro.
When last we saw Circle Track's Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro, she was sitting under the bright lights of the Vehicle Technology Center at last year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. And although the car has not recently graced the pages of the magazine, the whole G.R.E.E.N. team has been hard at work planning, structuring, and generally preparing for the next phase of the project.
1. Back for Phase 2 of the...
1. Back for Phase 2 of the project are our friends at Argonne National Laboratory.
As a refresher, or for the benefit of new subscribers, Project G.R.E.E.N. was designed as a very special project car that would give Circle Track readers a glimpse into the future of what oval track racing might be like 15, 10, or maybe even just 5 years from now. G.R.E.E.N. actually stands for Green Racing Experimental Engine Narrative, an acronym coined by our very own Bob Bolles. In a nutshell, we wanted to investigate exactly how racey of a car we could build employing modern drivetrain technology and skinning it in a late-model body. Our base engine was Chevrolet Performance's CT525, while the body of the car would be a '10 Camaro. During the course of phase one of the project, we compared carburetion to electronic fuel injection, as well as race gas to pump E85 in a quest to find the best fuel/induction combination for the motor. For a number of reasons, the combination of EFI and E85 won out by delivering an overall 7 percent increase in torque. At least on paper the car should pull very hard off of the corners.
In a subsequent test at New Smyrna Speedway with resident CT project car driver Dalton Zehr behind the wheel, the EFI/E85 configuration of the Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro turned laps 0.5 of a second faster than with traditional carb/race gas. The lap times were truly impressive, but would such a car be able to compete with Midwest Super Late Models? There was only one way to find out. So we packed up the trailer and headed to LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in LaCrosse, Wisconsin for the annual Dick Trickle 99, a 99-lap race that is divided into three 33-lap segments.
Running with the likes of Chris Wimmer, Steve Carlson, Ross Kenseth, and more than 60 other top-notch drivers would be no easy task, but in the end Dalton finished a very respectable 14th. But the best part was we only spent $38 on gas and had approximately $8,500 in the engine. Now anybody who races in a series like the ASA Midwest Tour, where built 9:1 powerplants are the standard bearer knows that you don't normally spend less than $10 g's on a motor and less than $40 in gas for a 100-lap race.
2. Meziere’s electric water...
2. Meziere’s electric water pump sits snugly against the radiator. Drawing less than 12 amps and weighing only 6.2 pounds the pump delivers 55 gpm of cooling power.
As is typical with many short tracks around the country, LaCrosse opens the pit gates up after the event and allows the fans to meet the drivers and teams. Suffice it to say our little red Camaro had gained a lot of attention on the track, so when the checkered flag fell and fans streamed into the infield at 10 p.m., we had no choice to start talking about the project. When the last fan left, we looked at the clock and it was 1:30 a.m. Project G.R.E.E.N. was truly a success. We'd build a racey car at a low cost that yielded a ton of fan and driver interest and appeal.
The Camaro then made appearances at the 2010 PRI Trade Show in Orlando and SEMA 2011 in Las Vegas accompanied by a comprehensive presentation crafted by our friends at Argonne National Laboratory at both stops. Subsequently, the presentation was given a third time at IMIS-Indy last year.
Prior to the Trickle 99 race we had hauled the Camaro to Argonne National Lab's facility just outside of Chicago for some final instrumentation work on the car so that our engineer gurus Forrest Jehlik and Danny Bocci could gather the data that they needed. It was during a bench racing session at lunch that Dalton hatched an idea that led to Phase 2 of this project upon which we are about to embark. Our 20-something driver, theorized that if we removed everything that was mechanically driven off of the front of the engine, then we should free up horsepower. Items like the water pump and power steering pump should be driven electrically, perhaps by a second battery located remotely toward the rear of the car. Now, there would no longer be a need for an alternator, more free horsepower. Jehlik and Bocci both agreed that it would be easy to do. Then came a flurry of downstream ideas.
3. Here you can see how the...
3. Here you can see how the dual outlet plumbing runs from pump to engine.
4. Now this might be one of...
4. Now this might be one of the stranger places you’ll see a p/s system mounted in an oval track car. While it might look cramped there is actually plenty of legroom underneath the electric p/s pump.
5. One of the coolest features...
5. One of the coolest features of the p/s steering system is the fact that it is completely adjustable. The black and red knob you see here works just like your brake bias adjustment. Turn it one way for firmer steering input, turn the opposite way for softer.
6. The muscles of the system are two Valence Technology lithium-iron magnesium phosphate batteries. And no, that is not a typo in the word iron. Lithium-ion batteries are found in your cordless drill that you bought at Lowe’s. These batteries are hard-core all the way, offering double the run-time at less than half the weight of comparable lead-acid versions.