Editor's Note: What if there were technologies and approaches to running a race car that significantly increased performance, were relatively inexpensive, lowered operational costs, supported domestic industries, and virtually removed racers from the environmental debate? Even though many racers may not be particularly concerned about their potential environmental impact, the performance and cost benefits can be significant. Racers spend countless hours and resources trying to gain the slightest bit of performance advantage. It's this passion that makes the people involved a truly special group of individuals.
Circle Track's "Project G.R.E.E.N." team is on a path to demonstrate that our goals are not unrealistic and now appear to be within our reach. From the results contained in this story, we believe there are virtually no significant compromises in using electronic fuel-injection (EFI) in an oval track car since increased performance and lower operational costs are achievable. In addition, racers could be seen as leaders in the overall environmental movement.
Dave Kalen from Sensors, Inc., installs the heated exhaust flow-meter and exhaust sample l
Beginning with the Jan. '10 issue of Circle Track and in subsequent stories and interviews, we have collected a range of opinions from various stakeholders both inside and outside the motorsports community. The mounting body of evidence in support of our concept continues to grow and promises to offer a viable and cost-saving alternative to contemporary ways of going racing.
So, in order to further demonstrate an increased credibility for the technologies we're advocating, the team felt there was only one way to pursue that: prove them at the track. So, we packed our bags, equipment, and stopwatches, survived a couple of lightning strikes, a long week in the shop, and the blistering and humid summer trackside sun in Daytona, Florida, with long hours of wrenching and tuning to validate the concept. We openly share our on-track results in the following discussion with the anticipation you will be pleasantly surprised.
Graph 1: New Smyrna raceway, half-mile oval. Average time per lap, in seconds, for each c
One cornerstone for this project has been the unique ability to accurately measure real-time emissions. This was demonstrated in the dynamometer testing article published in the May '10 issue of CT.
Capitalizing on the capability of this tremendous technology, the Project G.R.E.E.N team installed a Sensors, Inc. SEMTECH DS portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) in a tube frame race car. Traditionally, accurate emissions testing required vehicles to be tested in a laboratory environment. However, this unit allows real-time emission measurements with the vehicle operating at the track, as it would in a race. By linking a GPS and a data acquisition system that allowed for temperature measurements and engine control unit (ECU) codes, the team tested each configuration twice over a series of five-lap runs (for a total of 10), running virtually-identical lap profiles.
Argonne National Laboratory Research Engineers Danny Bocci (left) and Forrest Jehlik (righ
Cones were set up on the track for the driver, Dalton Zehr, to reference braking and acceleration points. In addition, he drove very similar track lines to maintain consistency. Testing required using the same engine as in the engine dyno tests, GM Performance Parts' CT525. The only changes involved swapping the fuel induction system (carburetor to fuel-injection), switching between fuels (race fuel, E85), and installing catalytic converters, all of which had previously been done during dyno testing.
In order to facilitate quick changes and ensure the fuels tested were not inadvertently mixed, the Project G.R.E.E.N. Camaro was equipped with two fuel cells; one for race fuel and the other for E85. This ensured fuel homogeneity and consistency. Quick connections were placed in the exhaust pipes to simplify catalyst swap-out, and changes between manifolds for carburetion and fuel injection took no more than 20 minutes. From there, it was simply a matter of running the laps, measuring and analyzing the data, and openly sharing the results with you, our readers.