As many of you know, I dig racing. I’ve already dedicated several posts to efforts being made by the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) to promote a greener image when it comes to auto racing and to highlight the efforts being made in the racing world to develop green technology. While many people might dismiss the notion of production car-based racing as green, the fact is that many major manufacturers use racing as a test bed for new technologies, both performance oriented and otherwise, that eventually find their way into dealerships.
Last Friday, the ALMS announced a five member “Green Dream Team” made up of five racers from the ALMS. These five men will serve as ambassadors towards a greener racing series. Bob Dickinson, Vice President of Public Relations/Media Service, reached out and clarified for me what these ambassadors will do, and how the ALMS is looking towards a greener, and faster, future.
The Green Dream Team
The big announcement right before last weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix was the formation of the Green Dream Team. Five drivers were chosen for their dedication to green racing and to lead the series on green issues. From the press release, the drivers are;
- Paul Drayson drives and operates Drayson Racing. Drayson is an official lord – Lord Drayson – in Great Britain’s Parliament and serves as that country’s Minister of Science and Innovation. Prior to that post, he was Great Britain’s Minister of Defense Procurement. He is a leading voice worldwide on environmental issues as they pertain to alternative fuels and energies. His Lola-Judd prototype competes on cellulosic E85, a second generation biofuel.
- David Brabham is often considered the founder of the Series’ green movement via a letter he wrote to Founder Don Panoz and President/CEO Scott Atherton in 2004, suggesting the Series seriously consider alternative fuels as a strategy. Brabham, who is the Series’ reigning champion for Patrón Highcroft Racing, also was a member of the overall winning team last year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Patrón Highcroft races using E10, virtually the same fuel that consumers purchase at the service station.
- Johnny O’Connell races for Corvette Racing, a team that was the first to announce in 2008 that it would compete using cellulosic E85. It not only won a GT1 class championship that season, but it also was the inaugural winner of the Green Challenge, an award created by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International for teams that scored best in fuel efficiency, environmental impact and overall performance. O’Connell has started more American Le Mans Series races than anyone in its history, 103. He has a collective 14 wins in the world’s top endurance classics – the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
- Chris Dyson drives for and is a principal of Dyson Racing. The BP-supported team that races a Mazda-powered Lola prototype made history last fall when it became the first race car ever to race (unclassified) using the biofuel, isobutanol. The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón made isobutanol its fifth officially approved energy source at the beginning of the 2010 season. Dyson is a former Series champion (2003) in LMP2.
- Gunnar Jeannette at 18 became the youngest driver ever to complete the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This season, he drives for G-Oil’s Green Earth Team Gunnar in the new LMP Challenge class. His ORECA FLM09 competes using Green Earth Technologies’ G-Oil, a biodegradable fuel made from beef tallow. G-Oil is also the official motor oil of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the International Motorsports Association (IMSA), the Series’ sanctioning body.
One of the primary functions of the Green Dream Team will be “to engage both fans and teams on the topic of green racing,” says Bob Dickinson. The team is just getting started, but Bob explains that these drivers are “very passionate” about green racing and they are going to work within the ALMS to make improvements wherever they can. These are after all the men on the front lines. “We are hoping to spread a broad message about racing green, not just to fans and teams, but to the OEM manufacturers too.” He also said that while Porsche hasn’t announced their KERS hybrid will be racing in the ALMS, Bob says they would certainly be welcome.
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