Patrick Racing aims to show how clean-burning natural gas can effectively compete amid conventionally and alternatively powered counterparts in American Le Mans Series (ALMS) racing. The team is working with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), sanctioning body for ALMS racing, to identify development and testing opportunities for natural gas fuel systems to power the Series’ Prototype Challenge class during the 2013 season.
Jim McGee, Patrick Racing team manager and chief mechanic, notes what many fans of natural gas already know: This 130 octane fuel is a great choice for racing with plenty of performance potential in a world at speed. That will be evident in Prototype Challenge racing.
The Prototype Challenge class features the ORECA FLM09, a race car with a minimum weight of 1,985 pounds that’s powered by a 430 horsepower LS3 V-8 engine. The race car features a full carbon fiber chassis, carbon brakes, and an Xtrac sequential gearbox with paddle shifting.
IMSA points out that ALMs is 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. The use of natural gas is viewed as a logical next step in the series’ positioning as a leader in green racing.
The goal of all this? The transition of natural gas fuel and technology from the race track to the highway. Green racing is viewed as a pathway for technology developments that will make their way to tomorrow’s production vehicles, a role that racing has played in the development of advanced technologies for more than a century. Using ALMS racing as a platform to share how safely and reliably natural gas can be used in a racing environment will show millions of people how this fuel also makes sense for daily transportation.