NASCAR goes green with hybrid pace car

Apr 23, 2009 By Jim Utter

Until recently, about the only thing green about NASCAR was Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s paint scheme.

Tuesday, a day before Earth Day, Toyota and Lowe's Motor Speedway unveiled something else green -- an environmentally friendly Toyota Camry Hybrid that will serve as the pace car for the May 24 Coca-Cola 600.

In a sport that still races cars with carburetor engines and only moved to unleaded fuel in 2008, why a hybrid?

"We see it as a demonstration of performance," said Ed Laukes, Toyota's corporate manager of motorsports marketing. "The fact we can take a car literally anyone can buy down at their local Toyota dealer and go out and pass the performance characteristics required by NASCAR, we think that is pretty exciting."

To be approved as a pace car, the Camry Hybrid had to pass a NASCAR-mandated performance test. To run at Lowe's, a pace car is required to reach speeds close to 100 mph from a stand-by position near the exit of pit road to the time it reaches the exit of Turn 2 -- a distance of about a quarter of a mile.

A Ford Fusion Hybrid paced the green flag in last season's Sprint Cup Series finale at Homestead, Fla., but wasn't used after that because it didn't meet the performance standards. The Toyota Hybrid will be the first to be used throughout a race and will be used at five more races this season -- the October race at Charlotte, at Infineon Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway, Watkins Glen, N.Y., and the October race at Martinsville, Va.

Denny Hamlin, who drives the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup series, was on hand Tuesday, giving demonstration rides.

Could he imagine NASCAR adopting a hybrid racing vehicle?

"I know as a fan, when I used to sit in the stands, how exciting it was to hear the engines roar," he said. "At the start of the engines, the ground kind of shakes. You're just not going to get that from a hybrid.

"It's quiet and smooth."

And green.

___

(c) 2009, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).
Visit The Charlotte Observer on the World Wide Web at www.charlotte.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Low-cost, hydrogen-powered forklifts with rapid refueling, zero emissions coming soon

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hybrids easy on the fuel, government says

Oct 27, 2006

Hybrid automobiles by Toyota, Honda and Ford are the most fuel efficient, said the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Toyota Annouces R&D for Standard Current Prius

Nov 12, 2007

Toyota announces plans in the works to create a Prius Hybrid model that will run on a standard current. The development is still in the research phase and will be released as soon as all quality control issues ...

Toyota's Crown Hybrid Lets You See in the Dark

May 31, 2008

Considering that nighttime driving is often the most dangerous, the new Toyota Crown Hybrid could help make the roads safer by giving drivers a kind of nocturnal vision.

Hybrids are becoming mainstream

Jun 16, 2005

Hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles are rapidly becoming mainstream choices for American consumers, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and HybridCars.com. "The first buy ...

Recommended for you

Ikea buys wind farm in Illinois

22 hours ago

These days, Ikea is assembling more than just furniture. About 150 miles south of Chicago in Vermilion County, Ill., the home goods giant is building a wind farm large enough to ensure that its stores will never have to buy ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

Power arm band for wearables harvests body heat

Apr 12, 2014

(Phys.org) —A group of Korean researchers have turned their focus on supplying a reliable, efficient power source for wearables. Professor Byung Jin Cho of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.