Absent of any considerations for including green technologies in racing, what do you think the motorsports community will look like in 10 years?
If motorsports fails to engage in making racing more environmentally responsible, in 10 years it'll be irrelevant. While I hate to say that, if they are not going to be the ones leading the charge and looking at it as an opportunity for sustainability, at least in this country, then somebody off-shore likely will.
Best case, by including green technologies in racing, what do you then think the motorsports community will look like in 10 years?
Sprint cars already have two...
Sprint cars already have two steps toward the green racing concept. They race alcohol burning engines with fuel injection, albeit mechanical.
You know, the problem we run into continually is that people tend to not dosomething that's necessary until it's forced upon them. I view this as a totally reactive way to handle issues. In this country, for example, we've not accelerated the development of some automotive technologies that could have either helped or accelerated domestic vehicles getting improved fuel economy. I have a '57 Chevrolet with overdrive and it wasn't until imported vehicles began to include lower engine speeds with the powertrains equivalent of overdrive gearing that domestic car makers responded in a similar fashion. This is the sort of technology refinement I'm referencing that racing can apply to OEM technologies for further development and use in over-the-highway vehicles.
The current editor of Circle Track has spent more than three decades in the motorsports industry. From the early years as a drag racing teenager in New Jersey, who then gravitated to the local oval tracks at Flemington and Wall, Fisher's racing career has spanned a wide range of oval-track racing. In addition to building and racing his own cars, he had a successful stint on the NASCAR Cup Series tour as a business/marketing program manager working with such teams as Geoff Bodine Racing, Phoenix Racing, and Roush Racing.
Why do you think the motorsport community should be concerned about a green approach to racing?
Corn is a traditional source...
Corn is a traditional source for E85, one of the most well known alternative fuels. But did you know that ethanol-based fuels can be made out of any renewable plant stock?
It seems to me there are two areas of concern. First, I can foresee some governmental interest in the technologies evolving outside of motorsports to the extent they will likely increase the pressure on vehicle manufacturers to further improve fuel economy and the overall carbon footprint from these mobile sources. The other area of concern that I believe to be more critical is the lack of practice within motorsports to embrace the latest OEM technologies. If we're going to perpetuate, and certainly grow, the oval track segment of the motorsports community, then we need to begin using technologies the younger racers can relate to-carburetors to electronic fuel injection being just one example that comes to mind.
Short-term, what changes do you think are worth considering?
What I'd like to see is at least one sanctioning body provide a class of racing for EFI, electronically controlled oval track cars. That's not say they should go out and immediately replace what I'll call "old-style" oval track engines with those electronically controlled ones. Rather, I believe new classes should be formed that allow the more modern technologies to transition into the existing oval track environment. Simply stated, I'd like to see sanctioning bodies and tech officials not be afraid of electronic management systems on race cars.
Long-term, what changes do you think are worth considering?
I think we're going to see more OEM technologies included in what I'll call "environmentally friendly" oval track cars in the future, at least I believe the need will be there for this to occur. Right now, there are isolated instances where some electronically-controlled engines are being used that have initially demonstrated lower costs to build or buy that go longer between rebuilds and actually use less fuel in the process.