I was at Long Road Racing recently to do some filming for the North Carolina education system. A company is filming a number of short video segments about air pollution, which will be used for interactive high school science curriculum throughout the state.
The producers wanted to talk to a race team about ways that fuel efficiency is approached in racing. That’s a big aspect in motorsports, especially in endurance racing. They asked us about ways that young drivers, specifically high school students who have recently gotten their license, can help to make their vehicle more fuel efficient. Some of the things we talked about were ensuring they have properly inflated tires and general maintenance to keep the car performing at an optimal level.
We even talked a little about how in certain race series, engineers work within fuel efficiency parameters. A perfect example of that is in WEC and F1, where they have energy recovery systems to regenerate lost energy into power, and what started as experimental technology has transferred into everyday road cars.
Another aspect we discussed for the video was how you can increase your fuel efficiency by the way you drive: how you accelerate out of a stop light, optimal speeds on the highway, and shutting a car off if you’re going to be idling for an excessive amount of time were all mentioned. Short-shifting for manual transmissions was another thing we talked about, too.
One of the reasons the film team wanted to talk to a pro racer was to gain insight about how they achieve these fuel efficient practices in their racing, like when a driver has to save fuel to make it to the end of the race while still going as fast as possible.
The film crew will be going to VIR this week to film a piece with the host of the video segments, so they will have some on-track footage, as well. I’ll do a ride-along and demonstrate how I save fuel during a race when it’s necessary.
I get a number of opportunities to be involved in outreach to students, like with Mazda’s STEM education presentations at high schools near the tracks where we race. It’s nice to interact with students and share my passion about motorsports, and I get to show them how it’s not just about going as fast as possible. There are a lot of intricacies to it, from the specific roles on the team to the skills necessary to have a successful race program.