- Jul 26, 2007
Chrysler produces the ultimate green racer
Arguments could be made about the green credentials of any alternative fuel vehicles such as the chemical content and energy required to produce batteries, the problem of producing and storing hydrogen and more. But here is a racer produced by a group of Chrysler employees that is completely green. OK, not including any energy required for the computers used to design it and the machines used to build it, so no one is completely green.
A team from Chrysler's Pacifica Design Center in California designed and built an Extreme Gravity Racing car relies entirely on gravity for propulsion. Extreme Gravity Racing is form of soap box derby that includes steep hills and sharp turns with speeds up to 60mph. The Chrysler team has come out on top in the elapsed time category two years running. Now if only we could make all roads face downhill so that we could just use gravity propelled cars we would never produce carbon emissions or run out of fuel.
[Source: Chrysler] Somewhere between a Soap Box Derby and NASCAR...
When competitors from the world's top automotive design studios meet this September for the Extreme Gravity Racing (XGR) Series event in Los Angeles, the Chrysler Group's winning team from the PacificaAdvancedProductCenter will be the one to beat.
For the past two years, a group of employees at Pacifica design center have parlayed their time and passion for cars into a winning formula that competing teams envy. The Chrysler Group's team has taken first place two years in a row in one category and has placed in the top three in two others.
Nine PacificaAdvancedProductCenter employees gathered with the Extreme Gravity Racing car they helped build and race.
Extreme gravity racing is a fairly new sport-soapbox-style racing with a 21st century spin. The idea is to put drivers into aerodynamically optimized, but engineless race cars. The vehicles are similar in appearance to missiles on wheels that hurtle down steep hills and around hairpin curves at speeds in excess of 60 mph.
There are three categories of awards in extreme gravity racing: top speed, shortest elapsed time and best design. "Elapsed time is the one everybody shoots for," Jordan Stockham, a modeler/fabricator at the Carlsbad, Calif.-based studio, said.
"The races have become progressively more challenging, with corkscrew turns on steep grades," Alan Barrington, driver and designer of the 2005 racer, said. "This type of racing is just as intense and competitive as any motorized racing, but it's completely green."
First time out, the Chrysler team took first place for best elapsed time and achieved a top speed of 53 mph.
"We were the underdog with the smallest budget, and we wanted to win," Larry Nelson, a modeling/fabrication supervisor, said. "Our original budget was minuscule, and the team volunteered their time to build the car. The camaraderie among team members was one of the best parts of the project."
Last year, the team competed in two races, taking third and first places, and reaching top speeds of 60 mph. They plan to exceed these speeds in 2007 with a car designed to handle the speed safely.
"We should mention how important the driver is," Tony Newman, a modeler/fabricator, said. "He gets into the car and goes as fast as he can with no fear. Alan (Barrington) doesn't get enough credit. The driver has to be fearless."
This fall, 20 teams or more, including two from Europe, will race in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth, Calif.
"It has been said that most of them just want a chance to try to beat the Chrysler team," Stockham said. "We're proud of the Chrysler Group racers and our overall first-place -position for two years in a row."
Besides Barrington, Stockham, Nelson and Newman, the team includes Ivo Milosavievski, John Sodano, Kevin Verduyn, Rob Pitt, Michael Newman, Lennart Gustafsson and Ken Cook.