Could the electronically controlled,...
Could the electronically controlled, horsepower-laden LS3 be the future powerplant of choice in oval track racing?
At first glance, it could be argued that all these options have been around for some time. Well, possibly not all of them, but maybe most. So why now, given all the economic conditions surrounding us, should we consider changing the course of circle-track racing?
Why CT Has Initiated A Green Racing Project
Circle Track's objective here is not to "change the course" of circle-track racing. Rather, and to the contrary, we intend to identify and explore ways contemporary racing can become supplemented with a more environmental approach and hopefully one that addresses economic issues as well.
By design, this project is configured to stimulate thought while providing a hands-on approach to connecting existing dots with those more economical and environmentally friendly. We're going to build a car but don't intend to go racing. There will be extensive testing of the engine package, using multiple fuels, and technologies . . . some contemporary and some not, in terms of present-day, mainstream circle-track racers. The car will see some track time, for the purpose of comparing current fuels and engine configurations with some viable alternatives in both categories.
Bottom-line, we'll share it all with you for the express purpose of stimulating thought among Circle Track's readers, be they racers, parts providers, engine builders, or rules writers. The project is planned to run for a minimum of a year, and we fully expect reader comments in the process, so don't hold back.
What is Circle Track's green racing project?
Circle Track staff has been discussing the concept and need for this project dating back more than a year from the magazine issue you're now holding. Early on, it was necessary to create a map that would identify both short- and long-term objectives. The next step was to populate that map with key people who could help us reach our intended goals. We feel that has been accomplished.
Texas-based Mast Motorsports...
Texas-based Mast Motorsports already has a race-ready computer-controlled LS-based engine that puts out a healthy 575 hp.
Fundamentally, the CT staff had already been made aware of the "Green Racing Protocol" fathered by Herb Fishel (for more on Herb see the sidebar in this story) and his hand-picked team of relevant players. This effort began life as the "Green Racing Work Group," back in February 2006, comprised of thirteen motorsports notables and an initial meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Interestingly, included among that group were the Federal Department of Energy, Society of Automotive Engineers, and Environmental Protection Agency, along with representatives from major automotive engineering and research companies, domestic and off-shore OEMs and portions of the academic community. In short, this distinguished "working group" had been engaged in discussions for roughly two years when Circle Track elected to formulate its project. From another perspective, it enabled the magazine to draw from expertise that had already been identified and assembled.
So, to that end, we gained participation from selected members of Herb's team. In the related story on page 34 we sat down for a Q&A with members of Argonne Labs, the EPA, and the SAE, while supplemented with commentary from Sensors, Inc. (the portable emissions measuring system people) and Mast Motorsports. We even coaxed Editor Rob to engage with his thoughts. Of course without powertrain and related component participation, a project like this has no legs. In that regard, GM Performance Parts stepped up to play, recognizing (as does everyone on board) the potential short- and long-term impact of a project that urges the motorsports community to view its future with an eye on responsibility and accountability.
Do We Have A Plan?
In a word, yes. The engine package is based on GM's LS3, 525 hp, crate engine known to the oval track world as CT525. There will be four initial configurations involving carburetors and electronic fuel injection. Each of these arrangements will be tested using racing gasoline and E85-first on the engine dyno and then at the track. Direct power comparisons will be made on the dyno and on-track performance will be evaluated when there.