Global Leader in Green Racing not just in name… it’s a title earned

Today is Earth Day. And when it comes to making the best use of the planet’s resources, the idea of auto racing does not leap to mind. Yet the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón has been doing just that for so many years that it proudly carries the title of the Global Leader in Green Racing.

And it’s not a self-assumed title. The U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International all endorsed the Series as the only one to meet all the standards for Green Racing that the collective established in 2008.

Green racing? It sounds like an oxymoron, yet it is the same kind of high-speed research and development that car manufacturers have been using for decades to improve their consumer automobiles that the ALMS and its partners use to showcase new and innovative ways to utilize the Earth’s resources. Also key to that is educating and informing its ever-increasing fan base of the importance of leading the way in environmental matters.

For instance, this year the ALMS is partnering with the Go Green Auto Rally. It began the connection with the Winter Test at Sebring and most recently made an appearance at Long Beach. The competition sees every day drivers prove that responsible driving begins with GGAR’s principles of safety, savings and sustainability.

“A big part of green driving is awareness,” said three-time ALMS champion Allan McNish. “On and off the racing circuit we have to be efficient. The Go Green Auto Rally brings that across to people in a new way.”

Drivers had a chance in Miami to drive against the popular Audi prototype pilot to see if they could beat his efficiency rating.

Teams in the ALMS are encouraged to strive for a combination of efficiency and performance at every venue they compete through the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. Michelin entered into an environmentally conscious partnership with the American Le Mans Series in 2009 for the teams at each event that demonstrate the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact.

Last year, the ALMS moved away from traditional power to solar for its timing and scoring efforts. Sanctioning body IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) switched from the old style gas-powered generators to the new HotSpot solar generators to power the timing and scoring traps with amazing results.

Lynda Polk, IMSA’s chief of timing, said the new system has proven to be “extremely cost-effective both in time and effort.”

Many of the ALMS’ partners have been engaging in green racing for years. Yokohama has developed tires from a blend of natural rubber and orange oil in place of petroleum products. They have performed so well in competition that in addition to comprehensive use by entire field in the 2011 GT Challenge class, they are the tires of choice for both the Paul Miller Racing Porsche and the West Racing Lamborghini in GT.

The reduced petroleum tires also are available to the general public for use on their automobiles.

Green Earth Technologies, maker of next-generation motor oil from renewable resources, began its association in with the American Le Mans Series in 2010 by supplying G-Oil in the Series’ track vehicles. Also last year it sponsored Gunnar Jeanette’s LMP Challenge car. The team proved the mettle of G-Oil by running basically the same biodegradable lubricant throughout the season.
Dyson Racing has the G-Oil sponsorship this year and for the second straight season is powering its Lola-Mazda an isobutanol-blended fuel.

When it comes to fuel during the 2011 racing season, a number of the top ALMS teams run on an 85-percent mix of ethanol including Corvette Racing, Robertson Racing, Flying Lizard Motorsports, Team Falken Tire, Panoz Team PTG, Risi Competizione and Extreme Speed Motorsports.

Finally off the track, tracks holding ALMS events have been involved with aggressive recycling programs. At the season-opener in Sebring, Coca-Cola teamed with local Boy Scouts to set a record for the amount of plastic, glass and aluminum collected.

“We even brought out a special new sorting trailer for the effort,” said local Coke representative John Higgins. He pointed to increased efforts by ALMS teams and a number of campers at the race for the results.

Racing is greener than one might think – especially in the American Le Mans Series. In addition one wants an up-close-and-personal look at these alternative fuel machines, head to any of the Series’ remaining seven races or watch all the action on ABC, ESPN2, or

“It’s exciting as well as being extremely relevant,” said ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton. “Fans can see the future in the competition right before their eyes.”
By Barry Foster


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