DETROIT – More than a decade ago, the IMSA-sanctioned American Le Mans Series (ALMS) pioneered a Green Racing program in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International and the United States Department of Energy (DOE).
This afternoon at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, IMSA President Scott Atherton and EPA Transportation and Climate Division Director Karl Simon unveiled plans for expanded IMSA Green initiates both on and off the racetrack which will come online over the next several seasons.
As part of the announcement, Atherton confirmed that the next generation of Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car, which will begin competing at the start of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, will use hybrid power.
“If you’ve been following the reports, it’s not news, but for the record, we can confirm that the engines that will power that next-generation prototype will be hybrid power,” Atherton said. “IMSA is working with our current and interested OEM partners and also with input and insight from the EPA and the DOE to finalize those regulations.”
In past years, IMSA’s GT Le Mans (GTLM) race cars achieved Green Racing Challenge status through protocols established by the EPA, DOE, SAE International and IMSA. The goal for the next generation is to achieve Green Racing Cup status, the highest level of environmentally responsible racing through implementing innovative engine and fuel technologies.
“We believe that the introduction of the 2022 DPi will help us become the first racing series to achieve the Green Racing Cup status as defined by those Green Racing protocols,” Atherton said. “We were able to achieve the Green Challenge status and we had an eight-year run starting with the American Le Mans Series and continuing through into the WeatherTech Championship before the fuel regulations changed in 2016, when we moved to the more global formula, the fuel mix that is used at Le Mans and the WEC, the E20 that we have today.”
In addition, Atherton discussed plans for future initiatives in partnership with Michelin, which supplies all tires for the WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and the IMSA Prototype Challenge, to reduce tire allocations. Also, IMSA plans to work together with VP Racing Fuels, IMSA’s official fuel supplier, on future fuel technologies.
“No tire company has a more significant commitment to environmental responsibility, or a better grasp on what it takes to be involved in an actual reduction of tire consumption,” Atherton said. “Working together with Michelin, we intend to reduce our tire use with the goal of achieving a level of reduction that delivers and environmental benefit that would be equal to, if not greater than, the carbon footprint that occurs from our weekend on-track activities. That’s a lofty goal, but all involved believe that it’s possible.
“In future seasons, we will work together with our OEM partners, the EPA and the DOE, as well as our official fuel supplier, VP, with the goal of showcasing an advanced fuel that will feature a higher level of octane and most likely an increased amount of renewable content. The combination will result in a fuel that reduces carbon emissions, it increases the octane and thereby increases the performance of our cars as well. This is something that will effectively foreshadow the fuels that we will all be using in the not-distant future in our consumer vehicles. As IMSA led with such things as zero-sulfur clean diesel and cellulosic E85, the vision of this collaboration is to repeat that as we look forward.”
Other possible on-track initiatives under consideration for the future include ETCR, which would be a fully electric version of the TCR platform, as well as a possible ePrototype platform.
A key off-track IMSA Green initiative announced today is IMSA’s participation as an affiliate of the EPA’s SmartWay program, which assists companies in using more efficient transport modes, equipment and operational strategies.
These initiatives help reduce freight transportation-related emissions by accelerating the use of advanced fuel-saving technologies. As a SmartWay Affiliate, IMSA can play a key role in supporting these objectives by improving fuel efficiency, reducing emissions and saving money within its transport sector. IMSA will serve as a high-profile Affiliate, informing its partners about the benefits of the SmartWay program and encouraging the use of its technologies and protocols.
“We’ve discussed from Day 1, really, with an enthusiastic partner in IMSA, the goals of this program and the work that we’re doing together,” said Simon. “There’s three things that we think can come out of this program. One would be reduced air pollution, not only from thinking about what the footprint of the race series is, but also thinking about the vehicles and how we get that technology that’s being proven every race into the marketplace. What matters to us is having people buy, use and operate those cleaner-technology vehicles.
“The second one is reducing fuel use and improving efficiency in the vehicles. That has a number of benefits, including a reduced carbon footprint and thinking about what that looks like and trying to provide information out in the marketplace. We think working with IMSA Green and our partners at DOE and SAE can really make inroads in terms of educating folks to make purchase decisions that will really help drive some of that beneficial behavior.
“The last one and one that’s kind of new for us in this partnership that we’re excited about is the off-track. We’re really happy for IMSA to be a SmartWay affiliate for our program. That’s a successful program for us that has thousands of partners across the country that help work in really improving freight efficiency, the protocols that are associated with that, the reporting obligations, the best practices, all of those things IMSA can really help us improve.”
The press conference also was used to officially announce an extension of the partnership between IMSA, the EPA and SAE International. It is expected that a similar extension with the DOE will be confirmed soon.