The American Le Mans series bills itself as the greenest form of motorsport, and in terms of including alternative fuel race cars, no other series on the ALMS level can compete. The ALMS currently has cars running E85 ethanol, biobutonal, diesels, Porsche hybrids, and for the first time an all-electric race car. But all of those race cars had better make room for the latest entrant in the new Prototype Challenge class, for American Le Mans is bringing on board cars powered by compressed natural gas.
Racing Ahead With Alternative Fuels
CNG has been brought up as a racing fuel before, and the first team to embrace it will be Patrick Racing, headed by Jim McGee. Patrick Racing will utilize an ORECA FLM09 chassis powered by a Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine running natural gas. For those in the know, the LS3 engine is the same motor found in the base-level Corvette and 2010+ Chevy Camaro SS.
Does that mean GM is bringing a CNG-powered Camaro to market? Not at all. However, American automakers and politicians have also expressed interest in CNG as a replacement for oil, and getting race cars to run natural gas would be a great first step. So far CNG vehicle sales have been limited to commercial trucks, but showcasing CNG as a race fuel could pique some interest among gearheads like me.
With CNG now racing in the ALMS, the only alternative fuels that I can see missing are propane and biodiesel. Will CNG race to the front of the ALMS pack when it debuts in the Patrick Racing car in 2013? I can’t wait to find out.
Source: The Washington Post