Why do you think the motorsports community should be concerned about a green approach to racing?
A number of F1 teams have...
A number of F1 teams have a regenerative braking system called KERS. The system captures, converts, and stores energy from braking into a usable source of on-demand power for the car. Wouldn't you love to have an extra 20 horsepower at the touch of a button for your Asphalt Late Model? IMS Photo
In short, it's because all of society is concerned with the green movement. This movement won't exclude racers, so we need to look at the challenges and take them head on. This concern clearly goes to more than just the motorsports community. It involves society in general, particularly since the current administration seems to be guiding us in that direction.
We all need to become more conscious of our overall environmental impact from the things we do or don't do. A larger 'green movement' certainly can't hurt anyone as an individual, and, for those us who are in the motorsports industry, we need to adopt these changes or we'll be left behind. People dedicated to green activities could target motorsports as a group or an activity that is in complete contrast to what the larger portion of society thinks is good for this Earth. We need to understand that, accept it, and realize what the rest of society expects from us with regards to our recreational activities.
Short-term, what changes do you think are worth considering?
We have a lot of tools on the OE side that motorsports should consider. For example, we've constantly asked ourselves as a motorsports community, when does fuel injection take a more prominent role in all sorts of racing, not just circle-track racing but NHRA drag racing as well? Just taking some of the advanced technology that the OE has developed over the past couple of decades and applying it to motorsports would by itself help create more efficient powertrains. And if you were to couple this with exhaust catalysts and related controls, you could begin moving the entire motorsports community in a more green direction.
Long-term, what changes do you think are worth considering?
It will simply take one community of racers to decide it can become 'green' and still go out on Friday or Saturday night and have fun with their chosen form of motorsports. As soon as one segment of racing adopts that approach, other areas of the sport will look at that, realize performance levels have been maintained, possibly made better, there are fewer pollutants being produced, and we can raise our level of environmental responsibility while avoiding possible criticism for failing to do this.
What opportunities do you see in exploring sustainable fuels and alternative engine technologies?
I absolutely see opportunities out there. General Motors has looked at E85 as an alternative fuel, certainly devoted time and resources to hybrid vehicles, and I would not want Circle Track's readers to rule out the possibility of a completely electric propulsion system in motorsports. There are already all-electric drag racing leagues out there. I think certainly within the next decade we'll be talking about multiple areas of motorsports, taking a serious look at electric propulsion, as are some of the road racing go-karts right now.
Absent of any considerations for including green technologies in racing, what do you think the motorsports community will look like in 10 years?
Well, we are going to have racing, even if people fail to adopt some of the changes we've discussed here. They'll find a way to race. But one of my concerns is flat-out shortages. We've already heard rumors about nitromethane coming up short in NHRA drag racing. I don't think people stop to consider where high-octane fuel comes from. Given our consumption rates and the fact off-shore petroleum providers continue to impact pricing, you wonder how long we'll be able to fill up race car fuel cells.