Monday, June 18, 2007

Best Finish

I know that no one who reads this (all two of you) is a racing fan, but I am. Specifically, endurance sports cars. I don't know what it is about them, but I can't get enough. This weekend was the running of the premiere endurance sports car event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the Audi R10 TDI repeated last years dominance. Even with smaller tanks, the diesel powered sports car prototypes (Peugeot entered a diesel powered 908) ran away from the petrol powered prototypes.

While this isn't remarkable in and of itself, since the petrol powered Audis have ran away from the other prototypes as well, the R10 has run faster times than the petrol powered R8, striking a pretty good blow for diesel power.

And this is part of what I like about racing, and something that I think it has lagged a bit on or a while but is getting better.

Racing, while always about being faster than the other car, is also about 'improving the breed.' Races like The Indianapolis 500 were a test of engineering that brought us things like the rear view mirror and the seatbelt.

With things like peak oil and global warming, it's time for racing to prove its relevance. The diesels at Le Mans is part of that (note in the linked article about the particle filters on the Peugeot). The Indy Racing League now uses nothing but Ethanol, and Rahal/Letterman will run a Porsche RS Spyder that runs on street legal ethanol (I couldn't find an article specifically about that, though I did find one about the greening of Porsche). Granted ethanol is not my favorite solution, largely because of the US' insistence on using corn and the way we farm corn.

In 1998, small American auto manufacturer Panoz even tried to enter a hybrid Le Mans racer, years before the astounding success of the Toyota Prius.

As a racing fan and someone concerned about the environment at the same time, this kind of thing is encouraging. If racing can take the lead in changing things for the better then there might still be room for finishes like this (keep in mind that this last lap comes after twelve hours of racing. The fireworks going off gives a neat video game feel to the finish):

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