Every Day Is Earth Day At The American Le Mans Series

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Dyson Racing's Lola/Mazda uses an isobutanol-blend fuel Photo: Anne Proffit

Dyson Racing's Lola/Mazda uses an isobutanol-blend fuel Photo: Anne Proffit

Everyone speaks platitudes on Earth Day, claiming to do their part in saving this orb we all live on.  

No racing sanctioning body backs their play as much as the American Le Mans Series, which has been proclaimed the Global Leader in Green Racing by no less than the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International, all of whom endorsed ALMS as the only one to meet all standards for Green Racing that this group of agencies established in 2008.

There are several ways that ALMS walks the walk where it pertains to environmental friendliness.

For starters, there is the Go Green Auto Rally, held in most instances the same week as a race.  I had the opportunity to test skills in driving efficiency, conserving fuel and leaving a smaller footprint during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Given a route book that took me around the Long Beach city, using stop-and-go traffic as well as steady-state cruising on the internet, I did my best to look ahead and plan my maneuvers throughout the half-hour drive.  It was a fun challenge.

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

In 2010 ALMS moved from traditional power to solar for its timing and scoring tabulations.  No longer using gas-powered generators, ALMS' personnel rely on new HotSpot solar generators to power their timing and scoring traps.  According to Lynda Polk, chief of timing, the new system has proven to be "extremely cost-effective both in time and effort."

ALMS tire supplier Yokohama uses race tires constructed from a blend of natural rubber and orange oil - in place of petroleum products.  The new racing rubber has performed so well that, in addition to use by the entire GTC class in 2011, Yokohama tires are being used by two teams in the most competitive GT class.  Reduced petroleum tires are available to the general public as well.

All ALMS' GTC-category cars use E85 Photo: Anne Proffit

All ALMS' GTC-category cars use E85 Photo: Anne Proffit

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Green Earth Technologies makes its motor oil from renewable resources, sponsoring Gunnar Jeannette's LMP Challenge car in 2010.  This year Dyson Racing uses G-Oil in its LM P1 prototype, a Lola/Mazda that continues to run on an isobutanol-blended race fuel.

Nearly all ALMS teams run 80-percent ethanol fuel in their racing cars; other teams utilize 10 percent ethanol while many of the international LM P1 entrants focus on biodiesel fuel for their turbocharged racecars.

Finally, ALMS has teamed with the Boy Scouts of America and Coca-Cola Companies to enhance recycling efforts at race venues.  At the season opening Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, the effort was so successful that Coke had to bring out "a special new sorting trailer for the effort," said local Coke representative John Higgins.  

At Sebring, the Boy Scouts set a new record for the amount of plastic, glass an aluminum collected, the increase aided by ALMS teams' efforts and a number of campers at the Sebring venue.

The American Le Mans Series celebrates Earth Day whenever it competes and in its everyday activities.  Racing can not only be green - with ALMS it is green!

© 2011 Anne Proffit

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