What immediate and longer term issues do you think need to be resolved in bringing the benefits of this project more into the mainstream of circle track racing?
"The immediate and longterm issue is getting the proper catalytic converter technology into the units to be used in racing. Considering the cost of racing, the cost of chassis and related expenses, installing a pair of catalytic converters is just as easy as installing mufflers. There's nothing complex about this, and as long as the ones used are designed for the proper application, they'll have a significant impact on emissions. While there may be some instances where cats also function as mufflers, I think the major issue right now is getting converter manufacturers to design and build the proper parts. Beyond this, I think selling the idea to racers and spectators will be more difficult than simply using the parts."
What questions do you see arising from this project and how do you perceive responding to them?
"In the process of getting racers and spectators to accept a more 'green' approach to racing, it's important everyone involved knows and understands it's not going to make any difference in racing, almost no difference in power, and will allow race cars to have a major and positive impact on emissions. The racing community needs to become more proactive. Racers need to know they should become involved in all this before some forces outside motorsports say it's required. Taking the initiative right now to demonstrate viable options for more environmentally responsible racing is an obvious step toward assuring the sport's future.
Dave Kalen, Account Executive, Semtech, Inc.
Did you observe any test results that were not expected?
"In our experience dealing with catalytic converters, once you reach an exhaust temperature that causes converter light-off, you see virtually no more unburned hydrocarbons (HC). In this particular case, I was surprised at the levels of HC that we observed. However, according to Forrest, this was because of a lack in oxygen to burn off the excess HC, and he's already suggested a way we can prevent this by the supply of additional air to the cats. This is simply something necessary to get the most efficiency from the converters and information that's valuable to the project, especially when we get to the track. It was also interesting and somewhat unexpected that we didn't see nearly as high HC levels as I've observed testing race-type engines in the past. I'm also confident we'll bring down the comparatively lower levels for this engine once we get additional oxygen into the system."
Based on the dyno tests thus far conducted, what conclusions can you draw about the impact of the project on the circle track community, both short- and longterm?
"I was amazed to see that the power penalties were so slight, considering all the changes made, especially when switching from a carburetor to EFI. I mean, at the power levels we're dealing with for this engine, the horsepower and torque differences were miniscule by comparison.
I think we can point to these new technologies as actually gaining performance in certain ranges of engine speed without a major sacrifice in peak power where these type engines don't necessarily spend that much time on the track. Short- and longterm, I think we're already seeing evidence that switching to the newer technologies and sustainable fuels can have a major impact on the circle track community. And keep in mind that we've just begun exploring possibilities and haven't had an opportunity to optimize any of the combinations."