Published on June 13th, 2012 | by Christopher DeMorro6
Grand-Am Series Announces “GX” Class For Alt-Fuel Vehicles
While there are those who fight the notion that any fuel other than oil is a foolish notion, those who know better are working to embrace alternative fuels on every level. The world of motorsports is developing some truly unique and wonderful technologies that run cleaner and more efficiently, and manufacturers are actively seeking out racing series to demonstrate these advances. The famed Grand-Am series is the latest motorsports competition to embrace alternatives with the new GX class, which will debut in 2013.
The GX class will run at the same races alongside the Daytona Prototype and and Grand Touring classes and will host a number of alternative fuel technologies. The series will debut in 2013, which gives Grand-Am officials a chance to hash out rules that will allow technologies that will likely include alt-fuels like ethanol, flywheel hybrids, and small, turbocharged engines. Mazda has already announced that it will enter a clean diesel engine into the GX class next year; who will step up to challenge them?
Sounds a lot like what the American Le Mans Series has been doing for years. I don’t say that to diminish the Grand-Am announcement, as I am always happy to see more motorsports competitions adopting alternative fuels. But rather than announcing an all-new class, which apparently came at the behest of auto manufacturers themselves, why not just switch fuels altogether?
Grand-Am road racers currently run Sunoco 260 GTX, an unleaded racing fuel that allows for compression ratios of around 12:1. Engines tuned to use E85 ethanol can run compression ratios of 14:1 or higher, which any racer will tell you is great for making more powah. A switch from racing fuel to ethanol would also help promote an American-grown fuel, rather than supporting a company which gets a vast majority of its oil from places like Nigeria, a place where oil spills on a scale of Deepwater Horizon happen almost annually. Whatever your misgivings about ethanol, there are now ways to produce it without reducing edible food crops, and Grand-Am should take advantage of its performance properties to green their sport.
But the GX class is a good start, and I am excited that an organization as well known and as popular as the Grand-Am series is hopping on the alt-fuels bandwagon with organizations like IndyCar and NASCAR racing.