One of the competitors from the Michelin Green X Challenge. | Photo courtesy of Green Racing.
The automotive racing world has a long history of moving the car industry forward through the development and use of new technology. Seeing racing’s tremendous promise, the Energy Department, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the automotive industry decided it was time to harness that innovation to improve the efficiency of vehicles both on and off the track. With Green Racing, we’re demonstrating that even the fastest vehicles can use less oil, produce less pollution, and be more environmentally-friendly.
Green Racing uses motorsports competition to help educate and promote alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies that can be transferred from the race track to the consumer market. The Energy Department, EPA, SAE International (the leading transportation engineering association), and automotive industry leaders developed the Green Racing initiative to increase the public’s awareness of these technologies, including biofuels and electric drive. The program includes racing protocols to recognize and reward automotive industry leaders that go the farthest and fastest with the smallest environmental footprint and energy used. By doing so, Green Racing aims to foster new technology development and adoption, resulting in cleaner, more efficient vehicles.
The American Le Mans series (ALMS) was the first racing series to adopt the Green Racing protocols, and incorporated them into a season-long Green Racing Cup Championship Award in 2009. At the end of each race, the teams from the Le Mans Prototype and Grand Touring classes with the fastest speeds, lowest energy, and best efficiency earn the Michelin Green X Challenge award. Once the season concludes, the teams with the lowest Green Racing score win the season-long Green Racing Cup Championship Award. Last season, ALMS used 43% less oil-based racing fuel by using alternative fuels and efficient technologies and the vehicles were more competitive than ever.
Education through the Green Racing program has not only led racing teams to adopt alternative forms of energy, but also piqued fans’ interest by helping them understand the team’s green strategy. To help explain the program, the Energy Department has brought the experience right to the fans with the creation of the Green Racing simulator and trailer.
Inside the walk-in trailer sits two Green Racing simulators allowing guests the opportunity to compete for the best Green Racing score. The game is a reformatted version of a traditional racing game and places drivers in the cockpit of a Corvette Hybrid using E-85 fuel. The scoring mirrors the Green Racing protocols. Prior to beginning the virtual race, the game tests drivers through facts, quizzes, and techniques that can help them enhance their Green Racing score. During the game, racers can monitor their efficiency and evaluate when to use their turbo boost. Once past the virtual finish line, the monitor displays the fuel saved using hybrid regenerative braking and E-85 as opposed to conventional racing technologies and fuel. The trailer is even delivered to the racetrack by a Chrysler Dodge Ram Plug-in Hybrid truck. Overall, it’s a fun, interactive way to connect and generate awareness on the road, at auto shows, and at racing events.
Green Racing and the partnership between the Energy Department, EPA, SAE, and ALMS represent a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate that efficient automotive technologies can meet the performance requirements of even the most demanding customers. As Green Racing continues into the future, we look forward to seeing how these technologies can be quickly transferred from the racetrack to the driveway.