ALMS announce specifics of Green Challenge

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As of last Detroit motorshow in January, the ALMS has worked with the Society of Automotive Engineers, Departmant of Energy and Argonne National Lab to develop a formula that will calculate the full life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of each competitor. with the move, the ALMS' main aim is to help push development of green production car technology.

The first Green Challenge™ will be held at Petit Le Mans, October 4 at Road Atlanta. Seperate trophies will be handed for the winners of that race-within-a-race. In 2009, the Green Challenge™ will include all Series events and culminate in a Green Challenge™ Championship Award.

In recent months, the Green Racing Work Group worked out the regulations and protocols of that competition in which all race cars would participate in a competition measuring three critical criteria:

- Performance
- Fuel Efficiency
- Environmental Impact

"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. It has taken hundreds and hundreds of hours and involved some of the finest technical minds in the automotive and energy industries."

Within the competition, cars will be ranked by the:

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

GM has embraced the Series' green focus with its two factory Corvette C6.Rs competing in 2008 on cellulosic E85. In brief, race cars that go the farthest, the fastest with the smallest environmental footprint for the energy used will get the lowest scores. The Green Challenge™ point score differs from racing score totals in that the lowest number wins. Two awards will be given - 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, the least petroleum and emits the fewest GHGs on a distance and speed equalized basis will be the winners.

During the 2009 season, all competing cars will participate in the season-long Green Challenge™ Championship. The twist, however, for winning the Green Challenge™ Championship is that each American Le Mans Series team starts off the season with the maximum number of points available for all the scheduled races (i.e. - 250 maximum in 2008). When teams win Green Challenge™ Championship points, they are deducted from this total. As a result, the points decline for successful teams over the course of the season with the lowest total at season's end, winning a Green Challenge™ championship for one prototype and one GT team.

The aforementioned ranking factors (energy used, GHGs emitted, petroleum displaced) will be compiled into a single weighted number representing the car's environmental performance. Race cars that use less energy and petroleum and produce fewer GHGs will score low. All measurements and calculations will be done on a well-to-wheel (life cycle analysis) basis, the most comprehensive and realistic approach to establishing the environmental impact of racing.

The GREET model developed by Argonne calculates all the energy consumed and the GHGs created from the time the oil is pumped out of the ground, the corn is seeded in the field or the wood waste is harvested, to its use as fuel in the car. [GREET stands for Greenhouse gasses, Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation. It evaluates energy and emission impacts of advanced vehicle technologies and new transportation fuels, the fuel cycle from well to wheels and the vehicle cycle through material recovery and vehicle disposal.]

Audi revolutionized motorsport by building and winning races with its Audi R10 TDI powered by clean, sulfur-free diesel. The difficulty of creating such a formula to rank environmental impact arises from the realities of racing that have to be factored to make valid energy comparisons. Faster cars and heavier cars use more energy and produce more greenhouse gasses than comparable slower or lighter cars. Cars that go farther during a race also require more energy.

To develop the formula, Argonne and the American Le Mans Series created "normalizing factors" for each variable so that they could accurately and fairly compare the environmental performance of each car in the race. The normalizing factors took into consideration such things as average speed, distance covered and car weight. These calculations were compared using sophisticated computer modeling with previous races to check their validity. In some cases, the cars that win the race will also get the best environmental performance score, but that will not always be the case.

"Motorsports has always enjoyed the distinction of being at the forefront of advanced automotive engineering," said Andy Karsner, U.S. Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, "and it has been a primary catalyst for moving new technologies to the showroom floor. The leadership role the American Le Mans Series has taken by embracing open and diverse alternative fuel technology platforms has not only set the bar for automotive racing, but it has helped redefine the future of the transportation sector."