With the push to clean up the air, environment, and to achieve net zero emissions in all aspects of life, what will the future hold for auto racing? Governments around the world are desperately trying to keep global warming at bay. This is going to have a huge impact on our world as we know it. Not just auto racing but our daily lives will change at a speed that will make most of our heads spin. In these modern times the technology to achieve these goals has surely picked up momentum. So I think the answer to “What Drove Us Here?” is obvious. With racing clean air wasn’t always at the forefront.
1961 California regulated that all new cars being sold must be equipped with a PVC system. [Positive Crankcase Ventilation]. The first step. Later came the EVAP system [Evaporative Emission Control System], followed by the catalytic converter. Lead in gasoline was also removed. Largely emission controls didn’t change much over the years. In the early days of racing, it was all about speed and driver safety. Popular series such as Nascar and drag racing began was more about speed, selling cars, and less about development. (Race on Sunday, sell on Monday) Indy car and Formula One racing was developmental in a sense. The cars raced are not based on manufactures models or available to the public. These series are some what developmental but still mainly about speed, performance, driver safety, and winning. The motorsports, largely didn’t consider the environment as part of their objectives. Pollution controls would only hamper performance gains. The 24hrs. of Lemans provided a platform for automotive development to be tested for speed, handling, safety, and durability.
Onboard computers began appearing in automobiles in the mid 80’s. By the 90’s all cars became fuel injected. Computers or ECU’s and sensors controlled the air fuel ratios and allowed engines to adjust performance as external conditions changed. This was a huge improvement over the past mechanical and carbureted systems.
It’s still not clean enough…
2021 and the push is on to kill the internal combustion engine. Electric cars are widely available now. Becoming more and more accessible. It is said that by 2025 battery technology improvements will make EV’s more affordable and more attractive to the average driver. But what about race cars? Electric hardly seems to be an option unless you have a pit full of recharged batteries that can quickly be replaced. Toyota plans to run their hybrid race car, fully powered with hydrogen and electric motors in the 2024 road race, “24hrs of Lemans.” The car company also seems to be banking their future on this type of hydrogen hybrid for future commuter cars. Currently there are two European countries that will be banning the sale of new car internal combustion engines by 2030. “Yikes,” for some. That really leaves consumers only one option. This only brings one question to mind, “Will the sale of gasoline ever be banned?”
All is not lost on the horizon. Porsche has just announced the birth of Synthetic Fuel for internal combustion engines. Probably still a few years away but encouraging news for us auto racers, car collectors, and those who are not willing to let go of their internal combustion engine.
Join in on the conversation…Written by: Gerry Thibeault – Amateur Racer/Mechanic/Fabricator
What are your thoughts on the future of auto racing, grass roots racing, auto-cross, or collector car?
Do you embrace the future?
Will you stick with old technology or embrace the new?
I would like to here your thoughts in the comments, but please be nice to each other.