A Green Grand Prix is not a spinach-colored midsize sedan
from the now-defunct Pontiac brand, at least not the one we're interested in. The Green Grand Prix
we're talking about is an eco-aware rally race that spans 60 miles in central New York state's Finger Lakes Region. The event is open to any street legal alternative fuel or hybrid vehicle; we saw everything from motorcycles to pickup trucks.
The event is considered a time-speed-distance road rally, also known as a regularity rally. The object is to maintain precise times and average speeds to and from each checkpoint. There are penalties for arriving early or late. This race method was chosen for the Green Grand Prix because it levels the playing field in determining best miles per gallon vehicle, which is what puts you in the winner's circle. In some mileage events, drivers can easily game the system by driving very slow to achieve a higher MPG rating, but that isn't the case here.
Beyond determining the winner for best MPG, the event is all about educating people on the importance of clean driving. "This fun and exciting educational event emphasizes energy independence and a cleaner environment," said Green Grand Prix founder Robert Gillespie. Gillespie is a local hybrid owner who is passionate about increasing awareness of green vehicles. This year's race will be the fourth for the annual event, which has picked up a major sponsor in Toyota
"In addition to hybrid and flexible fuel vehicles, expect many other interesting AFVs, including 2 hydrogen fuel cell cars
, a wood-powered
SUV and a vegetable oil-powered car
, as well cars fueled by bio-diesel
, LP and compressed natural gas
," said Gillespie. (And yes, TRANSLOGIC has covered them all.)
Last year's winner was the Alfred State 2003 Honda Insight. The car was fully stripped to the necessary parts, and in the process lost around 800 pounds. These changes allowed the team of 60 students and faculty to achieve 89 MPG in the heavily modified Honda Insight. Their win netted them a $1,000 prize, which they used to prepare for a top speed run at the Bonneville salt flats.
One of the modifications on the Alfred State Insight is a separate remote to control the hybrid unit. Instead of using the car's computer system to determine when to use the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), the passenger can activate the motor at certain sections along the route. An electric boost can be used to propel the car up to speed when climbing a hill, and also regen can be cranked up when coming back down.
The Honda Insight from Alfred State won most fuel efficient vehicle again for 2013 with an average fuel economy of 88 MPG.
"We need to promote these green technologies to students because they will be the ones designing and building the vehicles of the future," said Gillespie.
We couldn't agree more.