Is fuel injection in NASCAR's future? You bet, and it could be there as early as 2011.
As a mechanical engineering graduate from Texas A&M University, Horace is the founder and president of Mast Motorsports, a growing group of young engineers rapidly making their mark in the high-performance and racing-engine building community. This is particularly apparent in the world of LS engine modifying and building. Based on their experience with this engine family and familiarity with its requirements when using alternative fuels, Mast Motorsports was chosen for this project to conduct all engine and related evaluations, including assisting in linking on-track with engine dyno information.
Why do you think the motorsports community should be concerned about a green approach to racing?
There appears to have been a trend during the past five or six years that indicates a slow decline in the number of engine builders. Many of the smaller shops have been forced to close, based on a decreasing number of their customers. At some point, I suspect this trend will begin to affect the larger shops. In my opinion, there are two issues that play into this situation.
One deals with the possibility there will be some governmental intervention into motorsports, from an environmental perspective, and the other is the potentially good effects from reduced costs to go racing, once the transition from where we are to where I think this will go takes place. And even though I suspect there'll be some push-back from some of the motorsports community, I think it's inevitable that we need to become more environmentally responsible while looking for ways this change can help the sport become more affordable, at least in the long-term.
Short-term, what changes do you think are worth considering?
Engines need to be more fuel efficient. For example, if you're going to reduce CO2, the only way to do that is to burn less fuel. Put another way, this means to burn more of what's delivered to the engine so that less is wasted or, technically speaking, reducing fuel consumption per brake horsepower produced.
The balance of emissions can be controlled by other means, particularly by the use of catalytic converters. With proper parts design and electronic management systems calibrated to optimize these parts, there's no reason why competitive power can't be made that sustains good racing. More specifically, I see electronic fuel injection as a primary step that can be utilized in the near-term and it's not prohibitively expensive, particularly when you consider the benefits to engine life.
Long-term, what changes do you think are worth considering?
Looking ahead, I think catalytic converter technology is already available that would help reduce race car emissions, and any reductions in performance are certainly minimal, compared to the environmental benefits. In fact, I'd think that if catalytic converters become either required or chosen by racers in response to environmental issues, we'd see what I'll call "racing versions" of these get developed pretty quickly. I think the combination of EFI and catalytic converters will not only address any environmental concerns but also provide some improvements in engine life and the total costs associated with racing.