Detroit 2008: ALMS announces Green Challenge, Corvette goes cellulosic E85
American Le Mans Series CEO Scott Atherton announced a partnership this morning with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation and the Society of Automotive Engineers to make ALMS the global leader in green racing. Working with those groups, the series is defining a new formula for a Green Challenge that will be added beginning with the Petite Le Mans race at Road Atlanta this October. The new Green Challenge formula will factor in a variety of sustainability measures including types of fuels, efficiency of the vehicles, the materials used in the cars and more, combined with the performance of the vehicles on the track to establish a Green Challenge champion. Beyond this year, the Green Challenge will be expanded and will also incorporate measures of well-to-wheel efficiency.
Atherton made it clear that, unlike some other series that emphasize personalities and entertainment (ahem), the ALMS wants to foster technological innovation among manufacturers and use auto racing as a catalyst for developing sustainable transportation. To that end they are evolving a series of technical rules to further encourage the use of alternative fuels and drivetrains including diesel, energy regeneration, hybrids and more. At the same press conference, Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper announced that the Corvette Racing team was targeting the season opening race at Sebring in March to begin running the C6Rs on cellulosic E85. The team would be using ethanol fuel produced from wood chips, making it the first racing car to do so. Honda of America Executive Vice President John Mendel was also present although he did not participate in the press conference. Honda already provides engines for the IndyCar series that run on E100 and they are evaluating a variety of options for the Acura LMP2 racers that run in ALMS. Acura announced here in Detroit that they will introduce diesel engines in their lineup in 2009 and Mendel said that both diesel and hybrids are being looked at for future race programs.
[Source: American Le Mans Series]
SERIES ANNOUNCES GREEN RACING INITIATIVES IN DETROIT
The opportunity to partner with EPA, DOE and SAE furthers the Series' relevancy to manufacturers and their consumers, Scott Atherton says.
The American Le Mans Series reaffirmed its position as motorsports' global leader in alternative fuels today by announcing that it is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International to incorporate "green racing" principles into its 2008 racing season. The American Le Mans Series will be the first motorsports series to meet the criteria for green racing being developed by these groups.
In conjunction with the history-making EPA, DOE and SAE partnerships, the American Le Mans Series announced the creation of a first-ever, Series-wide "Green Racing Challenge." This new competition will encourage manufacturers to introduce and develop their "green" technologies and will be an incremental element of the Series' signature event - the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans race to be held Oct. 4 at Road Atlanta. Protocols and criteria for the Green Racing Challenge award are being developed by the EPA and DOE along SAE International and the Series, and will be announced later this spring.
The unprecedented association of the United States' environmental and energy government agencies, along with the industry's premier automotive society dedicated to advancing global technology and information worldwide, creates a landmark moment for the world's premium brand of motorsports.
Audi's pioneering diesel effort with its R10 TDI prototype exemplifies the Series' platform of relevance and alternative energy usage.
"The auto manufacturers competing in the American Le Mans Series have made it very clear that this is a direction and an overall initiative that is important to them," said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the Series. "The opportunity to formally align with the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and SAE International makes our platform very special and unique - to auto manufacturers and ultimately to consumers. At a time when nearly all of motorsports has lost its relevance regarding progressive technology or any connection from the race track to the showroom floor, the American Le Mans Series stands alone in providing a platform of solutions for our nation's automotive, transportation and energy needs."
With a direct link to the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, the American Le Mans Series features exotic prototype and production-based sports cars competing in four different classes on the track at the same time. The Series has more automobile manufacturers competing head-to-head than any other series in the world. All race cars in the Series compete on alternative fuels. For the last two seasons, Audi has competed with a revolutionary clean diesel-powered race car. Last year, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) and fuel supplier VP Racing Fuels introduced E10 (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) to all other manufacturers who raced in the Series. E10 is virtually the same blend that most consumers are able to buy at their local service station. This season, the Series in conjunction with EPIC will introduce E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) as one of its fuel options.
As a 'Green Racing' Series, the American Le Mans Series demonstrates performance, fuel efficiency and ecological impact.
American Le Mans Series rules also support the introduction of an electric hybrid race car and encourage manufacturers to develop new technologies (through racing) that can be applied to improve the automobiles being built for consumers. In addition to Audi, other auto marques that currently participate in the American Le Mans Series include Acura, Aston Martin, Corvette, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Mazda, Panoz, Porsche and Saleen.
The American Le Mans Series, with technical rules that not only allow but encourage manufacturers to develop cutting-edge innovations, has played an active role in the development of alternative automotive fuels. The competitive use of multiple alternative fuels such as bio and cellulosic ethanol, and zero-sulfur clean diesel has been achieved in conjunction with the automotive manufacturers that race in the American Le Mans Series.
The criteria set forth by SAE in concert with the Environment Protection Agency and Department of Energy to qualify as a Green Racing series requires that certain elements in a series be present. These elements focus on three vital characteristics that measure performance, fuel efficiency and ecological impact. They include:
# The use of renewable bio-based fuel or fuels
# The use of multiple engines, fuels and powertrain configurations
# The use of regenerative energy powertrain technologies
# The use of well-to-wheel energy analysis and GHG analysis
# The use of emission control strategies and systems
"This partnership between government and industry to use the American Le Mans Series as an incubator to accelerate the development of new, relevant and practical automotive technologies that will use less fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gasses and air pollutants further emphasizes the American Le Mans Series as the global leader in this important area," said Atherton. "This support by EPA and DOE in conjunction with the SAE comes at a time when manufacturers and consumers alike are looking for 'green' solutions. We are the only series in which manufacturers can aggressively develop breakthrough technologies for automobiles that consumers will ultimately buy and drive, reinforcing the American Le Mans Series as the most relevant racing series in the world."
The American Le Mans Series' 2008 season begins with the 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 15 at Sebring International Raceway. For the first time in history America's premier sports car endurance classic will feature teams that will all use clean diesel, E10 gasoline, or E85 ethanol.
About the American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series is the premium brand of motorsport in North America, featuring high-tech sports cars from the most prestigious automobile manufacturers in the world. With its direct link to the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, its unique four classes of competition showcase exotic prototypes (LMP1 and LMP2 classes) and sophisticated production-based GT cars (GT1 and GT2 classes), all competing on the track at the same time. With a 12-race schedule in 2008, the American Le Mans Series competes at premier road racing tracks across North America and at selected temporary street circuits in major urban markets. With a television package that includes five network broadcasts on ABC and NBC as well as seven live telecasts on SPEED, plus live broadcasts across Europe, the Series delivers a global marketing platform that is unmatched in motorsports. The Series, founded in 1999 by Georgia entrepreneur Don Panoz, represents a mirror image to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most famous and authentic automobile race. The American Le Mans Series features elite marques such as Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Corvette, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Mazda, Panoz and Porsche, and premium brands such as Michelin, Yokohama, Kumho, Lowe's, EPIC, Shell, DHL, Hyatt Hotels, XM Radio and many others. The teams competing in the Series range from top professional teams such as Penske Racing, Andretti Green Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing to top-level independent teams such as Dyson Racing and Intersport Racing.
The American Le Mans Series features technical rules that not only allow new technology, but actually encourage auto manufacturers to introduce new innovations into the racing environment as a means of rapid development for production car application. The Series is the only motorsports body in the world that features multiple street-legal alternative fuel sources - clean diesel, E10 gasoline and E85 cellulosic (non-feedstock) ethanol. Through partnerships with diesel fuel supplier Shell, VP Racing Fuels and EPIC (Ethanol Promotion and Information Council), the American Le Mans Series has taken the global leadership role in motorsports for the development of alternative fuel technology and its practical use in production cars.