ALMS Eyes Natural Gas As Alternative Fuel

The Prototype Challenge cars of the American Le Mans Series could become powered by natural gas as soon as the 2013 racing season. (ALMS photo)
The Prototype Challenge cars of the American Le Mans Series could become powered by natural gas as soon as the 2013 racing season. (ALMS photo)

BRASELTON, Ga. — The International Motor Sports Ass’n, sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, has entered into an agreement with Jackson, Mich.-based Patrick Racing to research and develop natural gas as an alternative fuel for cars competing in its Prototype Challenge division.

Embracing natural gas as a safe and abundant fuel, IMSA/ALMS and Patrick Racing will identify development and testing opportunities for the source to power the Series’ PC cars, beginning as early as the 2013 season.

“We are the only racing series recognized to comply with the Green Racing protocols developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International,” said IMSA and ALMS Chief Operating Officer Scot Elkins. “These organizations see Green Racing as a way to foster technology developments for tomorrow’s consumer production vehicles, enhance national energy security, and reduce carbon emissions. We view the addition of natural gas to the Series as a means of continuing our mission to be on the front line of automotive technology advancement, while providing unequalled entertainment for our fans.”

ALMS’ Prototype Challenge class features the ORECA FLM09, a race car with a minimum weight of 1,985 pounds and powered by a 430-horsepower Chevrolet LS3 engine.

The FLM09 features a full carbon fiber chassis, carbon brakes and an Xtrac sequential gearbox with paddle shifting.

Patrick Racing was founded by oil and natural gas exploration and racing pioneer U.E. “Pat” Patrick. He developed the concept that natural gas – an extremely abundant American energy source that is clean, safe and economical – would be an ideal fuel for racing engines. The company has also built and tested a natural gas-powered, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine.

“We are excited to become a part of the world’s premier sports car racing series and eager to help spread this technology to a vibrant, visible and growing element of the racing world,” said Patrick, whose teams have won three Indianapolis 500s.

“Natural gas is destined to become a major player in the transportation industry for everyday passenger vehicles, and not just fleet operations,” he added. “It is abundant, domestic, affordable and ecologically responsible. For more than a century, racing has been at the tip of the spear in developing new technology for the transportation industry. This is in line with and in the spirit of that history.”

Heading the natural gas technical development for ALMS’ Prototype Challenge cars will be Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Jim McGee.


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