I gotta admit, the environmental optics for car racing aren’t great. Burning all that fossil fuel, just to go round and round?
But how much fuel is burned flying the National Hockey League across the continent?
The fact is, entertainment - and recreation - costs.
And how many NHL teams fly in Diesel airplanes?
Because this weekend, I’m going to run a Diesel race car at Mosport.
No, not the multi-Le Mans-winning Audi (they have my number - make me an offer).
But a Volkswagen Jetta TDI, as part of a race series run by the Sports Car Clubs of America.
(I run a TDI Wagon as my normal car - think that will help?)
The race (Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m.) is a supporting race for the Grand Prix of Mosport weekend, which features the American Le Mans series.
For more info, try: www.mosport.com/alms09.htm.
It’s the second year of the so-called Jetta TDI Cup series - www.volkswagenjettacup.com
Ten races on some of the great road racing tracks of North America (Mosport is the only Canadian stop) pit 25 young drivers against each other in identical, nearly-stock Jetta sedans, equipped with a 2.0 litre turbo-Diesel engine running on SynDiesel B5 biodiesel fuel, and six-speed Dual-Shift gearbox.
The cars have racing suspension, brakes from an Audi R8, Pirelli slick tires, roll cage, and a fire extinguisher system.
To keep it real, drivers may show up at the track and find their car has been swapped out for another, this to prevent anyone from gaining any sort of technical advantage.
(Cheating? In a car race? Hard to imagine…).
The drivers who have to be between 16 and 26 years old, are selected following a series of audition tests.
The cost is $45,000 (US) for the season, dead-cheap if you know anything about racing. It gives these kids a chance to see how a truly professional series operates.
The Travelling Road Show includes huge tents and garages, technical assistance, and driving coaching, before and after each practice session and race. By the time these kids finish the season, they should know if they’ve got the Villeneuve gene or not.
The series champion gets a cool $100,000. Other purse money totals $50,000.
There are three Canadians in the series this year.
Andrew Cordeiro (I’m sure you can tell which one he is in the above photo) is the only Toronto-area entrant. Andrew comes from a Solo background, and is currently sitting tenth overall in his second year in the series, with two top-five finishes as of late.
Jake Thompson of Calgary was the Canadian National Karting champion in 2004. He won the second race of this year’s TDI Cup season, in just the second car race he had ever competed in. He currently sits fourth overall.
David Richert from Winnipeg is, like Cordeiro, in his second season. Currently 18th in the standings, Richert’s greatest successes may be off the track - he is raising money for water purifying systems to be installed in impoverished regions of the world.
See www.richertracing.com for more information.
This weekend’s race also will see myself and my Montreal auto journalist colleague Marc Lachapelle join the field as guest drivers, which means there will be one journo up front battling for the lead (him) and one trying to stay ahead of the course-closing car (me).
Marc and I figure we raise the average age of the field by about nine years all by ourselves.
Performance testing has proven that Diesel-powered vehicles offer 20 percent more torque than traditional gasoline engines, providing quicker off-the-line acceleration that’s well suited for the race track, although it feels weird to upshift a race car at 4200 r.p.m.
During the season, the Jetta TDI Cup cars will consume approximately two tanks of B5 biodiesel during the ten races.
The Series’s transport vehicles and generators also run on biodiesel. In addition, the Volkswagen program uses biodegradable tableware, lounge furniture with high recycled content, energy-efficient lighting and water stations that reduce the reliance on plastic water bottles.
The series also supports Carbonfund.org, the leading non-profit provider of carbon offsets. Volkswagen and Carbonfund.org are able to reduce the series’s carbon footprint through reforestation efforts such as the Volkswagen Forest, located in northeast Louisiana.