Green Challenge Rules Revealed

June 26, 2008
Forget SUVs and pickups. For the tree-hugging crowd, perhaps nothing symbolizes profligate waste more than motor sports. OK, we realize those NASCAR guys and their high-tech counterparts at Formula One don't exactly clock a lot of miles per gallon, but for what it's worth, an entire F1 season uses less fuel than the jet you took for your European vacation last year.

Recognizing the need to paint a green patina on its image, motor sports promoters are pushing to appear more environmentally friendly. Indy, for example, is running on renewable ethanol, and General Motors' entry into the American Le Mans Series, a Corvette, is being fueled by the gas/ethanol mix, E85.

ALMS has been pushing hard to develop a more environmentally friendly direction. And it has just announced the rules and regulations for its new Green Challenge series, which will kick off with a race-within-a-race at the Petit Le Mans on October 4 at Road Atlanta. The series, co-sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and SAE International, will expand to all ALMS races in 2009.

Participants will be judged by their results on the track, but along with performance, metrics will include fuel efficiency and their environmental impact. Cars will be ranked by the:

-- amount of energy they use
-- greenhouse gases (GHG) they emit
-- amount of petroleum they displace

Think of it this way: The cars that go the farthest and fastest, and have the lowest environmental impact, will get the lowest scores. And in the Green Challenge, the lowest number wins.

"This has been an interesting and challenging process," said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "With four different classes of cars, 14 auto and chassis manufacturers, and three different alternative fuels to take into consideration, a formula of how to create a fair competition with real-time analysis and a format that is easy to understand and communicate has been very difficult."

There will be two separate awards for the Green Challenge: one to the lowest score among the prototype classes (LMP1 and LMP2) and one to the lowest score among the GT classes (GT1 and GT2). Thus, the Prototype and the Grand Touring (GT) race car that uses the least energy and petroleum and that emits the fewest greenhouse gases on a distance- and speed-equalized basis will be declared the winners.

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