green motorsport marrying motorsport and the environment
green mean machines
If You Thought Electric Power Was Best Reserved For Milk Floats And Golf Buggies, Think Again. Green Motorsport Are Bringing It To A Racetrack Near You. Steve Walker Reports
Motorsport isn't a pastime that initially strikes you as being particularly environmentally friendly. Then you think of the piercing snarl of those highly-tuned engines sucking down all that high-octane fuel, you consider the specialist components and lubricants, the lightweight materials, the mountains of tyres, all the energy needed to manufacture them and all the waste. It quickly becomes apparent that Motorsport is, in fact, exceedingly un-environmentally-friendly. But that's if we're talking about the traditional route to tearing round a racetrack with a huge grin on your face. There is an alternative that holds Mother Nature's well-being in higher esteem and a UK company called Green Motorsport are at its forefront.
What initially strikes you about Green Motorsport is that this is a company with real vision. Their mission statement talks the talk: hydrogen fuel cells, nitrogen propulsion systems, ethanol technology, it's all advanced stuff that the world's major car manufacturers have toyed with but, as yet, have failed to turn into anything commercially viable. Eventually, Green Motorsport see themselves playing a role in kick-starting the hydrogen economy with a research centre and the world's first race series involving Hydrogen-powered super karts vehicles that would act as a stepping stone to the car of the future. Nobody could accuse Green Motorsport of setting their sights too low and their visionary thinking makes sense in that numerous new technologies have been honed and evolved through use in motorsport but while fuel cells are one for the future, it's their current activities which are likely to provoke the most immediate interest.
The main thrust of the company lies very much in the here and now with their groundbreaking work in electric drive systems and battery technology for use in karts. The Green motorsport electric karts can be powered solely by renewable energy with solar panels lining the roof of the Green Motorsport trailer generating the power to recharge their batteries and special micro wind turbines employed to provide extra capacity when needed. The company are also employing Hydrogen fuel cell technology to store any surplus electricity that is generated and to power their portable lap timing equipment. Their stated aim it to eventually use fuel cells as the power source for the karts.
"The commitment of Green Motorsport to bringing these new technologies into the motor racing sphere is admirable but better still, their products really do work."
Green Motorsport go to great lengths to ensure that all aspects of their operation are as environmentally-friendly as possible but more impressive is the way that they're able to do this without compromising on the quality of performance on the track. The Green Motorsport electric karts deliver remarkable acceleration with an abundance of torque which far exceeds that achieved by fossil-fuel burning equivalents. The nimble handling is a further strongpoint with advanced electronics in the kart giving the driver precise control over the output of the electric motor. The noise levels are dramatically lower than with petrol-powered karts and this makes the Green Motorsport products ideal for use in locations with sound restrictions in place. There's no need for drivers to have a licence for private racing either, so anyone can hop in and take one of these remarkable machines out for a spin.
The karts are extremely safe with no hot engine parts or flammable liquids, hydraulic disc brakes all round and a fully-enclosed battery compartment. The vehicles can also be programmed to restrict their power outputs according to the ability of the driver and the type of circuit on which it is being used. This means that novices can use them to get to grips with racing and more experienced drivers can access the kart's full performance potential.
The absence of the number of mechanical parts that feature in a conventional kart makes the Green Motorsport electric karts highly reliable and cuts down on the amount of maintenance needed. Batteries can be simply replaced and there's no engine to rebuild or clutch to replace. The motors that do all the donkey work are tough little units with 20,000-hour working lives, while the batteries are completely maintenance free and recyclable.
The Green Motorsport electric karts really point to the potential of renewable energy motorsport and the company are aiming to bring this to an even wider audience through their involvement in the British Racing Drivers' Club, Stars of Tomorrow race series. Green Motorsport has officially been offered the opportunity to run a series of races within this championship for aspiring young drivers and are actively engaging sponsors for the forthcoming events. The Stars of Tomorrow race series has consistently proven to be an excellent breeding ground for British driving talent and racing the Green Motorsport karts should be an invaluable experience in their development. The idea is that this high profile race series will bring the full possibilities of electric motorsport to a wider audience, while providing a platform for the further development of the technologies behind the Green Motorsport karts. It should also prove to be an invaluable tool for the education of the public in environmental issues from climate change to the importance of renewable energy.
The commitment of Green Motorsport to bringing these new technologies into the motor racing sphere is admirable but better still, their products really do work. The uptake of new environmentally-friendly alternatives is always going to be slow if they can't match the performance or cost-effectiveness of existing technology but the Green Motorsport solutions actually provide key advantages over fossil fuel burning karts on top of their reduced environmental impact. The high-performance, low maintenance and ease of use that these karts offer means that they have the potential to extend their usage well beyond the Green Motorsport BRDC Stars of Tomorrow series. Who knows, give it a few years and maybe petrol-powered karts will have become a rare sight on circuits around the country.
Green Motorsport: www.greenmotorsport.com. More information on Green Motorsport and their business activities.British Racing Drivers' Club: www.brdc.co.uk the official website of the British Racing Drivers' Club