Dave Kalen crunches the emission numbers.
If the racing community was ultimately open to the possibility of integrating renewable fuels and modern engine technologies, an entirely new fold of enthusiasts would be pulled into the sport. The sport would then become a standard for technology advancement and responsibility.
Our country needs visionaries and leadership, and there is absolutely no reason why the racing community can't be the ones to set such an example."
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 first step in making this happen is to get the support of the racing community for such change. There are visionaries, like our good colleagues at Mast Motorsports and all the other participants and sponsors of this project who are ready to support such a transition. We would also need the support of the sanctioning bodies to modify their racing series to include (at least initially) the newer technologies, comparable to what we're exploring right now.
Then, in order to bring such changes to the racing community, a reliable domestic supplier of fuel would be needed to support the effort. By doing what's possible to remove the racing community from the environmental debate, integrating more advanced technologies in the fold and returning the track to a technology proving ground, a whole new group of race fans could be brought into play. However, for that to be successful, a solid program of branding, marketing, and educating racers and the fan base will be required."
What questions do you see arising from this project and how do you perceive responding to them?
"I imagine the first question will be, 'Why should we change?' The answer to that lies in many of the points I've raised in responding to earlier questions. Ultimately, the fuels used in racing will need to be replaced with a sustainable source. Petroleum is not infinite. With the added concerns about global climate change, my opinion is it's only a matter of time before the racing community will come under scrutiny. By advancing toward a sustainable path that's ahead of the so-called 'curve,' this community will have empowered itself and set an example for the country, all without legislative duress.
In addition, I believe racers will ask questions about the costs associated with change. This, of course, is an important question. It has been a goal of those leading this Circle Track project to attempt demonstrating technologies that minimize costs to the racer, perhaps through offset fuel costs or improved component durability leading to fewer engine rebuilds and greater on-track fuel economy. Although none of these concerns are currently resolved, this project's participants are completely honest about all the realities of change. In this context, nothing will be hidden from CT's readers. By design, the intent is to be as transparent as possible to maintain honesty and technical professionalism. The results to date are very encouraging and could bode well for both racers and the general populace."
Rob Fisher, Editor, Circle Track Magazine
Did you observe any test results that were not expected?
"The biggest thing I observed, at least from my viewpoint, was the fact that when we put the catalytic converters on the exhaust system we didn't lose any appreciable power. Prior to the tests, my expectations had been that we'd decrease power on the order of 10-20 percent. Probably I'd had this view because what we did hadn't been done before, at least in the fashion we are executing this project. In fact, I believe the rest of our team felt we were going to lose some measure of power, so it was a revelation for us all that the differences between cats and no cats was so marginal.
To put it in perspective, when you look at a difference of 3-5 horsepower given the level of power this engine is currently producing, simple chassis tweaks can make up for more than a difference like this."