It looks like the American Le Mans Series is starting to consider this a possibility, as it attempts to dig itself a niche in racing as a “green” automotive racing series. According to reports, Patrick Racing Team and Indy 500 legend, Jim McGee, are working hard toward retrofitting the 430-horsepower ORECA FLM09 American Le Mans racer with a natural gas injection system.
It is uncertain exactly what type of natural gas, CNG or LPG, the Patrick Racing Team is targeting right now, but we would anticipate it being LPG, due to its more widespread availability. Given the fact that natural gas has an average octane rating of 130, it makes a perfect racing fuel. The biggest issue is getting it connected to the existing Chevy engine without losing too much horsepower or fuel economy.
Also according to reports, the plans are to have this system in place and homologated in time for the 2013 ALMS racing season, which will kick off in March next year. That gives Patrick Racing just under a year to get this system in place, tested, and certified for racing. If this takes off, it could ultimately alter the path that automotive propulsion is taking now – a lean more toward the electric side – and skew it back toward the natural gas/hydrogen direction.
Granted, CNG, LPG, and hydrogen will not overtake electricity in hybrids on the grand stage, but it could bring about a slight shift toward these alternative fuels. We’ll keep a close eye on this project and let you know how it’s going.
Click past the jump to read to full press release.
Look in any dictionary and find the word “dedication.” Next to that word, paste in a picture of Nissan Delta Wing driver, Satoshi Motoyama, as that is all of the definition you need of being dedicated to a particular craft. After being slammed in to the wall by a rookie Le Mans driver and his vehicle becoming disabled, Motoyama had two choices, give up or fix it yourself.
See, in Le Mans there is a rule against the pit crew coming out to help repair any disabling damages to a car – a ridiculous rule in our opinion – but there is no rule against the driver trying to fix said damages. So Motoyama, with his mighty Phillips screwdriver in hand, went to trying to breathe life back into his disabled experimental car, with his pit crew not too far away telling him what to do at each step.
Motoyama removed body panels, in an attempt to free the apparently stuck wheels, but that just wasn’t working. After exhausting all of the team’s ideas, Motoyama conceded to the fact that the Delta Wing was not going to finish the race. After months of testing, tuning, and more testing, this experimental rig didn’t get the opportunity to complete the race, despite a pretty successful debut, where it sat near the middle of the LMP2 class with a fastest lap of 3:42.612.
Fortunately, there were plenty of cameras available to capture Motoyama’s valiant efforts and he certainly earned the respect of his peers and us in the media with his efforts. Check out the above video to see his attempts to get the Delta Wing back on the road and you’ll see just how important this race was to the Delta Wing team.
We have a feeling that this is not the last time we see the Delta Wing. It ran very well against the LMP2 class and may have earned an even higher fastest lap position, had it not been so heavily damaged.
To audiophiles, 18,900 watts of power in a sound system is music to their ears, but to us normal folk, it seems like ear drum torture. Regardless, Nissan decided to team up with the Ministry of Sound to create a Nissan Juke with a monstrous sound system in it and released it for public viewing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans festivities.
On the outside, this flat-black Nissan Juke looks wild enough, with its unorthodox paint job and various black matte decals affixed to its body. On the inside, however, this Nissan Juke takes a turn toward the extreme, in the form of an 18,900-watt mobile DJ booth.
With the hatch closed the two speaker boxes, which each house an 18-inch subwoofer and several mid- and high-range speakers, feed through a perfectly tuned box to provide 150 dB of bone-rattling audio through the compact crossover. When the hatch is opened, the massive speaker boxes go with it, turning this Juke into a rolling PA system.
Complete with a DJ station and ambient lighting, there is no need to go to the club; you are rolling the club around with you. The tunes are piped in through the head unit via Ministry of Sounds digital radio app, so there’s no CDs to change or logging songs onto an iPod or flash drive.
This type of system requires extreme electrical power and the puny 12 volts from the Juke’s system just isn’t enough. This system includes its own power source, which Ministry of Defense does not identify. We can only assume that it is a series of deep cycle batteries, or it runs at a limited capacity when running off of the Juke’s electrical system and can be cranked to full power only when its power supply is plugged into a standard household electrical outlet.
I am not a huge fan of rolling boom boxes, but even I have to say this thing is pretty bad ass!
UPDATE 08/20/12: Nissan has announced a multitude of updates on the Nissan Juke Box, beginning with it’s UK price of ₤17,895 ($28,000), a new batch of photos, and a new video of the crossover hitting the road! Plenty to check up on with the Juke Box.
Despite the various high-speed crashes which took place at the recent 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi managed to come out on top for the 11th time in 13 years. With both Toyota LMP1 cars crashing out in the early stages of the race, one could argue that Audi was destined all along to take victory.
However, one could never have imagined that Audi managed to wrap up all three podium places with its incredible R18 race cars, two of which are e-tron Quattro-diesel-hybrids while the other two who finished in 3rd and 5th were the more conventional R18 Ultra diesel-powered racers.
Driving the victorious Audi R18 e-tron was Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, and Benoît Tréluyer. This victory marks a historic day in Le Mans history as the victorious car is the first diesel-hybrid to ever sit upon the top step of the podium and could help pave the way for more fuel-efficient LMP1 racers.
Audi board member Rupert Stadler stated, "By achieving this further success at the world’s most important endurance race our engineers demonstrated their high technological expertise in a particularly impressive way. With the e-tron Quattro in combination with ultra-lightweight design, we put a completely new technology on the grid and immediately won with it – this cannot be taken for granted by any means, particularly here at Le Mans."
It’s inevitable that Audi has already turned its attention to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, where we expect to see even more hybrid-diesels contesting.
With the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans series getting closer, Chevrolet is releasing a five-part video to show just how much hard work goes into preparing for such a competition. The series is called "The Prep" and the first episode has already been released.
For this weekend’s race in France, Chevrolet has prepared two Corvette C6.R models. This video presents the team getting the two race cars ready for the competition. We are just hoping this hard work is enough for the two cars to beat out the rest.
As a reminder, the latest C6.R race car is based on the Corvette ZR1 sports car and will be distinguished by a pretty cool aerodynamic package. This package includes a new front splitter, an open grille which forces air into the engine, headlamps in aero design, carbon fiber front fenders, front and rear brake ducts, a carbon fiber roof, and carbon ceramic brakes.
Carroll Shelby touched the lives of many people in the automotive world. During his racing career, he greatly changed the fortunes of Aston Martin by helping the British automaker take home a 1st place overall finish in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. Shelby was not alone in this victory, as his co-driver, Roy Salvatori, and the car’s chief engineer, Ted Cutting both had heavy influence on this notorious victory.
Sadly, the automotive world has lost all three of these men this year, all within a handful of weeks of each other. First came Cutting’s death on March 22nd, then Shelby’s passing on May 10th, and finally capping off with Salvatori’s passing on June 3rd. Aston Martin feels that all three men deserve the proper send off and what’s better than bringing the car that all three of these men had a hand in to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Unfortunately, it appears as if this 1959 Aston Martin DBR1 will not be making a tribute run around the course, but it will be present for the pre-race festivities. While this is not quite on the scale of the thousands of cars that gave Mr. Shelby a moment of noise in tribute, it is still a gesture that proves Aston Martin truly feels that Carroll Shelby, Ted Cutting, and Roy Salvatori are extremely important to its storied racing history.
Our hats have to go off to Aston Martin for rolling out the old DBR1, we are very curious to see what kind of condition it is in. We are willing to bet it is exactly as it was the day it pull out of Le Mans boasting the checkered flag on June 21, 1959.
The Le Mans 24 Hours races may not be the pinnacle of the racing world, but they certainly separate the men from the boys and women from the little girls. For the most part, over half of the field ends up retiring before the race ever finishes and the ones that do finish are completely exhausted – both car and drivers – by the time the race ends.
Audi has seemingly always been a part of the Le Mans 24 Hours and has earned tons of success in the race. In the 2011 running, Audi was set up to fail, as two of its three cars were forced to retire early due to freak accidents on the track. Truth in 24 II, narrated by none other than British bad-ass action star Jason Statham, documents the running of the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours race and how the last remaining Audi managed to overcome all of the competition, including three Peugeot 908s, to take home the overall No. 1 position.
What’s even more awesome is that Audi is providing both Truth in 24 and Truth in 24 II completely free of charge. You can download the debut Truth in 24 here, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then snag up Truth in 24 II here. It’s not too often that an automaker gives you something this cool for free, so take advantage of these free movies while you can. They are simply awesome.
Audi doesn’t mind pushing the envelope a little further than most people would and has proven that with the release of a new Le Mans race car. The racer is called the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro, a four-wheel driven diesel hybrid race car that’s set to compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 16 and 17, 2012.
Working under the same principles as that of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro uses kinetic energy that’s recovered whenever the car brakes, storing that energy in the flywheel accumulator as electricity before being sent back to the electric motors on the front wheels. The motors take car of the front of the vehicle, while the rear wheels get their power from the car’s 510-horsepower V6 TDI engine. The only difference between the aforementioned Porsche and the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro is that the latter is considered a mild hybrid, using a petrol engine along with electricity.
Since the car uses a heavy hybrid system, Audi went and designed the race car’s gearbox using carbon fiber composite housing, alleviating some of the weight brought about by the complicated drivetrain.
Before it struts its wares in Le Mans, the car will be put through the paces on May 5th at the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium where it will be raced by Allan McNish, Dindo Capello Tom Kristensen and Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler.
UPDATE 06/07/2012: Audi has unveiled a cool promo video for their brand new R18 e-Tron that will compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race on Saturday, June 16th-17th 2012. The video presents Audi’s racing evolution, going from turbocharged direct injection (TFSI) up to turbo diesel (TDI) engines and the new e-tron.
For roughly two years now, the DeltaWing has been in the works and just recently it received its most major corporate sponsors in the form of Nissan and Michelin. The DeltaWing is all set to make its debut race at the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the “Garage 56” class, but before it can make that run, the car needs to be tested and said testing has just been completed.
In the DeltaWing’s inaugural run on Circuit de la Sarthe, it completed a total of 54 laps. Through those laps, the Delta Wing really showed off one of its main benefits; its ability to use tires for longer periods of time, as it almost completed all 54 laps on the same set of tires. The only time the tires were changed was when it started to rain, so the pit crew changed it into a set of rain tires.
The second benefit of the DeltaWing’s technology, its fuel efficiency, was not mentioned, but we are certain that it was far better than the other classes of cars that run in Le Mans. The fastest lap that the DeltaWing pulled off in testing was 3:47.980, which would put it right on pace with the LMP2 class – the second highest class in the race – as the fastest lap in 2011 LMP2 class ranged from 3:42.625 to 3:55.254, putting it square in the middle of the LMP2 pack. Given the fact that it requires less pit stops for fuel and tires, this experimental car just might place highly in the race, if it finishes. We know that it will definitely win its class, as it’s the only entrant in the “Garage 56” class.
This definitely makes this year’s Le Mans, which starts on June 16th, even more worth watching just to see how this experiment pans out.
One feature that automakers have teased us with and even installed on concept cars is an LED screen and camera in the place of the old-style rearview mirror. With all of the cameras placed all around cars these days, like Subaru’s EyeSight system and the various backup cameras, we are surprised this hasn’t become a reality. The assumed reasons for rearview screens not taking the place of rearview mirrors are NHTSA and DOT regulations.
Honestly, we don’t see why the NHTSA and DOT would think a hunk of glass glued to the windshield is safer than a crisp LED image from an HD camera. Then again those two government offices – as with all government offices – make strange regulations. Apparently an LED screen and camera are plenty for Audi’s future Le Mans cars, as the automaker has just announced, via a press release, that its closed LMP prototype will run with an AMOLED screen in place of the mirror and a rear-mounted camera feeding the images to the screen.
The main reasoning behind this is that the LMP prototype’s cabin is fully closed, with exception of the front windshield, so a rearview mirror would display nothing but the rear wall of the cabin. So, if this technology is good enough for racecars, why are we not seeing it installed in street cars yet? Well, we just very well might, as you likely do not remember, but the rearview mirror was not used on motor cars until Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used one in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. It later became standard per NHTSA regulations for all cars to come with this item, thanks to its overwhelming success in racing.
Odds are that if this system is successful in racing that the NHTSA will adopt it, especially given the fact that rearview cameras are soon to become mandatory on all vehicle.
Click past the jump to read the full press release.