Talking Point

By Bill Isbister | January 28, 2004
"If you can prove it on the race track, it will sell down the road."

This has been the axiom of fossil fuel performance and we plan on using the same formula for biodiesel. Once we do, we're taking our case to the American people!

I've been a lifetime fan and sometime participant of motorsports. Globally, motorsports has a huge following. In Europe, racing shares top billing with soccer and cycling. Every weekend, when NASCAR is aired on television, 75 million Americans are watching. This venue is now the No.1 marketing forum for American corporations, and the fans are very loyal to their sponsors. Imagine if we fueled a support series with biodiesel in NASCAR or how about a biodiesel pace car in front of the field at the Daytona or Indy 500s? This can happen. A Cummins diesel actually sat on the pole in the 1952 Indy 500. To see it happen again could be monumental for public acceptance of biodiesel.

There is also political motivation in what we are doing here. Advocates for biodiesel need clout and that requires preaching beyond the choir, on a grand scale.

First it was soccer moms, now it's NASCAR dads. Politicians pay very close attention to these folks or they don't get re-elected. They are often the very same legislators that turn a blind eye to bills in support of biodiesel. Or for that matter, support for the new, lean, clean diesel technology on the market place. In Europe, over half of the new car sales are diesel; in America it's less than 1 percent. These new vehicles can be up to 60 percent more fuel efficient than spark ignition engines. This is power for the 21st century.

We chose drag racing to make our initial foray into motorsports with B100 and various biodiesel blends as fuel. The event is called the "CLEAN AIR QUARTER MILE" and anyone with a street/racing diesel engine automobile can participate in the event at their local drag strip. We've had great success, but we need more people out there to log times and get biodiesel in front of the public. We are also now building a street-legal diesel two-seater, called the Locost BioD-7, for track events. Assembly plans for this vehicle will be made publicly available upon completion.

Ken Rakoz from Centralia College, in Centralia, Wash., made the first significant run on B100 at Portland International Raceway on Oct. 19, 2002. A Portland TV station televised this event live, and it made a lot of believers out of naysayers. The fastest biodiesel performance vehicle time to date, not including jet cars, is 9.301 seconds-139 mph in the quarter-mile-set by the Cummins Racing Team this October.

We hope to work closely with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to get our events officially sanctioned. We plan on getting into all forms of racing-the sooner the better. Please contact us to find out how you can help. Like anything else in America, marketing is the key to success. Biodiesel is a wonderful fuel. Let's get it on track.

Bill Isbister is founder of Club Biodiesel in Aloha, Ore. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]
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