That said, the one piece I see causing us the most concern is the use of catalytic converters. While we are showing how to make race engines greener or cleaner, there is a portion of racers who, I think, don't really care. The perspective could be, 'You're designing another system that the racer must buy and that translates into spending more money.' However, the approach we're suggesting uses a domestically-produced, sustain-able fuel in an EFI system that can ultimately save the racer money (including improved fuel economy and less frequent engine rebuilds).
Bottom line, if we expand our thinking toward how we develop future propulsion systems for our race cars, we can have a positive effect on the sport from an overall viewpoint. Taking a proactive position by exploring suitable alternatives to conventional circle-track engine technology, demonstrating how beneficial torque characteristics can be established by such alternatives, and including the use of sustainable fuels are all part of a beginning to help expand the future of circle track racing.
I honestly believe that an electronically controlled, fuel-injected engine running on domestically produced alcohol will result in a very fast, very driveable, highly responsive yet cost-effective oval track race car."
Horace Mast, President, Mast Motorsports
Did you observe any test results that were not expected?
"As far as my review of the test results are concerned, I think there wasn't anything I didn't expect to see. I'm sure some people might have been surprised at how little power was consumed by the catalytic converters and how much of a difference they made in emissions. However, even though we saw substantial reductions in emissions, I think we can improve on catalytic converter efficiency for further decreases, even though the reductions made in NOx at this stage were significant. One additional issue that I know we'll be working on very soon is getting catalyst capabilities up to the level that can handle the power levels of these type of racing engines. I know the technology for upgrading the cats exists and has for 10 or 20 years. It's more a matter of applying that knowledge to the demands of higher horsepower engines to make certain durability isn't an issue under high heat and load conditions as seen during racing."
Based on the dyno test thus far conducted, what conclusions can you draw about the impact of this project on the circle track community, both short- and longterm?
"At this stage, I think it's going to take some time for everything being proposed in this project to take root in circle track racing. Short-term, I believe transitions will begin and move in stages.
For example, I believe the first movement will be when racers begin switching from carburetors to fuel injection, and I see no reason why this should not occur. I also think such changes will be more accepted in the circle track community because NASCAR has made the commitment to go into fuel injection. In a longterm sense, I think it'll require more time for sanctioning organizations to begin implementing 'green' sustainable fuels, catalytic converters, and things of that nature to really help the impact of racing on the environment."