How IndyCar and its partners are pioneering the use of green technology

Ray Harroun forever changed the nascent sport of auto racing—and by extension, driving—when he drove his mustard yellow car to the starting line of the first Indianapolis 500. His single-seater race was revolutionary in almost every aspect, for one. narrow, conical fuselage to the six-cylinder engine, which is why he won that 1911 race in a vacuum.

However, the most interesting aspect of the design, Harroun’s mirror mounted on the tips of his car, vibrated so violently on the brick racecourse that it was of no use to him. So the designers went back to the drawing board, changed the rearview mirror, and drivers have been looking back ever since.

For more than a century, motorsport has been a fertile testing ground for automotive technology, as racing teams have perfected disc brakes, carbon fiber construction, push-button ignition and suspension systems—advances that have made the transition from the racetrack to passenger cars. . But in recent years the IndyCar Series, which returns to the iconic brickyard for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28, has stepped up its game, adopting a collection of practices designed to make racing greener, including the use of alternative fuels. , sustainable rubber for tires, power tools, even diesel for 18-wheelers that transport race cars across the country.

“We’ve always been about innovation,” said Mark Sibla, IndyCar’s chief operating officer. “And so I think we see that as another step. We want to be a good corporate citizen. And to be able to use innovation to be a good corporate citizen, and in some cases to really improve the product, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

The double win puts IndyCar ahead of the curve in terms of green energy advancements in motorsports. This year it became the first US-based race to use 100% renewable race fuel, fueling its cars with second-generation ethanol derived from sugarcane and developed as part of a joint venture between Shell and Raizen, Brazil’s leading fuel distributor. The latest changes come at a time when all of the auto racing series are increasingly finding themselves activists who are warning about the effects of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

Four years ago Jean Todt, then president of the FIA, challenged his series to become a net carbon polluter by 2030, warning that the existence of international motorsport was threatened by its impact on the environment. And while the IndyCar policies aren’t ambitious, they are significant.

“It’s something we’ve identified as very important,” Sibla said. “… We’ve definitely had a lot of discussions about new technologies that we can incorporate internally. Everyone has taken the subject.”

“It’s about using that influence in a positive way,” he continued. “Our fans love innovation, they love technology. It’s a great way to bring that in and some good stuff along the way.”

Marcus Ericsson exits the pits during practice for the Indianapolis 500 on May 18.

(Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

Perhaps the most important advancement is happening where the rubber meets the road, with Firestone developing tires made from sustainably sourced materials. And with each race team going through at least 20 sets of four tires at each of the IndyCar Series’ 17 stops (or more than 34,000 Bridgestone race tires per season), that’s already making a big difference.

“Nothing goes into a landfill,” said Cara Krstolic, director of racing tire engineering and manufacturing, who has been working on renewable tires for Firestone for more than a decade. Instead of coming from rubber trees in Southeast Asia, the new tires that debuted at the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville last August are made from guayule, a low-water-use plant shrub found in the deserts of the southern United States. and northern Mexico.

Drivers, Krstolic said, are happy with the performance of the green sidewall tires.

“The best compliment we could get was that we didn’t see any difference in the tires,” he said. “We’re investing in sustainability at Bridgestone, not because it’s fun and not just because it’s something (people) can talk about. We love racing. And we want to be racing for a very long time.

“For that we have to make it a more sustainable series.”

It also drives Shell’s work on a 100% renewable racing fuel, which the company says reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 60% compared to fossil-based gasoline.

“Shell has set itself the goal of becoming a net zero energy company,” said Bassem Kheireddin, the company’s motorsports technology manager. “We have put together several measures to reduce, compensate and perhaps in some cases eliminate (greenhouse gas emissions). In addition to reducing the carbon footprint, it is also the use of a fuel made from renewable components”.

And just as Firestone hopes to bring its new tire technology from racing to the consumer market, Shell believes that someday its new fuel will be available at the pump as well.

“This is a great example of how pushing the limits of the racetrack can benefit our consumers and customers around the world in the future. The fuel requirements of a racing engine are different than those of a passenger car. However, what we learn from the track can be applied to our road product,” said Kheireddin.

“Indy has always been a testing ground,” added Sibla. “That’s one of the wonderful benefits of racing. In a harsh and aggressive environment, you put something on a racetrack and prove it. It is then refined over time and, in some cases, can be introduced to a commercial audience.

“It is a test laboratory where new technologies are introduced.”

Alex Palou of Spain has come out of the pits during practice for the Indianapolis 500

Alex Palou of Spain has come out of the pits during practice for the Indianapolis 500.

(Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

The commitment to sustainability extends beyond race day. Styrofoam cups and single-use cutlery are banned from IndyCar’s corporate office in Indianapolis, for example, and the carriers that move race teams around the country—they drive farther than race cars—run on diesel, which produces. gasoline emissions

“Obviously we have a platform here. We have a responsibility to promote sustainability,” said Tim Baughman, IndyCar’s chief track safety officer. “And we have to be good stewards of that. I think that is our role.”

Not everyone is as convinced. Robert Clarke, president and CEO of Clarke-Works, a motorsports consulting business, and a former Honda Performance Development executive, says IndyCar has not moved quickly or aggressively to address green energy innovation.

“IndyCar has almost evolved,” he said. “Burning corn-based ethanol and using tires made from ecological guayule materials are good, but indicative steps. And the hybrid electrical system that has been delayed several times will be another symbolic gesture when it is presented.”

Indianapolis 500 drivers gather for a photo at the finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis 500 drivers gather for a photo at the finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday.

(Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

Despite their history of technical innovation – and recent advances in IndyCar – most motorsport series have been slow to adopt green technologies, often at the hands of governments and other industries. And the motivation for this little evolution has not been completely altruistic. Concerns about global warming and the impact of automobiles on climate change are threatening the viability of auto racing, Todt warned.

Before the pandemic – and before “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” the popular docuseries behind the series on Netflix in its fifth season, motorsport was dying, Clark said.

“The audience was an elderly audience that was literally dying,” he said. “The series is beginning to understand and appreciate that for fans, cars need to be more than just going around in circles.”

That increasingly means more impactful initiatives than most IndyCars have taken. Think technologies that are not in the game today, such as super light motors and batteries and ultra-fast wireless charging in the pits or continuously from the track.

The movement towards alternative energy electric cars or emission-efficient hybrid cars, for example, has already begun. Today, there are more than a dozen series for electric vehicles, led by Formula E, the top racing class for single-seater electric cars. The series, which was founded in 2012, has made great progress in terms of battery power and performance in recent years and its Formula E Championship reached FIA level in 2021.

Sibla said there are no plans for an all-electric Indy 500 in the near future, although he wouldn’t rule it out. Innovation is ultimately what motorsport is all about, whether it’s a rear-view mirror or a battery-powered racing car.

“I don’t know that we can answer yet, ‘Where is it going?'” he said. “You have a 500 kilometer race and right now electric technology would make that incredibly difficult. There could be other technologies produced in the future. We could continue to use the 100% renewable fuel that Shell will introduce next year. It could go in a different direction.

“We are looking at many different areas. What are the emerging new technologies? What can help improve the product? This will help us get there.”

A century ago, Harroun found a way to make Indy drivers look behind them. But now the series is looking forward.

Source link

Related posts

Phillies vs Rockies Prediction: Stitches Bet on Taijuan Walker


SEAN HANNITY: We’re entering a dangerous new era in America


Sam Laidlow, Emma Bilham win PTO-upheld Tradeinn International Triathlon


Leave a Comment