Gasoline-fueled cars have long dominated most racing classes around the world. But they have definitely not had an exclusive. As far back 1931 Dave Evans' Cummins Diesel Special, became the first car to complete the Indy 500 without a pit stop. At various times methanol fueled cars have run in Formula 1, particularly in cars with supercharged engines. Indianapolis type cars have run exclusively on methanol since the mid-1960s and in 2007 they will be switching to ethanol. Now as the 2006 racing season comes to a close (except of course for Nascar which never really ends) more and more race-car manufacturers are announcing a move to alternative power-train choices. A couple of years ago the organizers of the 24 Hours of LeMans announced some rule changes to make alternative fueled racers more competitive. All this year in the ALMS and at LeMans the diesel powered Audi R10 has been completely dominant. Next year Peugeot will also run a diesel car at LeMans.
Formula 1 rule-makers have talked for several years about introducing hybrid drive-trains. Now comes word of a new hybrid powered race-car that is expected to run in Japan's Super GT series next year. If that works out the drive-train could eventually power a LeMans car. The power unit developed by Tokyo R&D combines a 4L Mugen V8 with twin Pues liquid cooled DC motors. It is estimated to produce 800 bhp and 686 ft-lbs of torque. This combination in a suitable chassis with a regenerative brake system could potentially give the R10 a serious run for its money. One of the main advantages the Audi had this year was the ability to run two extra laps per tank of fuel than the gas powered cars. At LeMans where they limit the fuel flow rate for safety reasons, this is a huge advantage.