A group of Boise State University engineering students are at Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats in hopes of setting a new land speed record with their vegetable oil-powered 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pickup.
Greenspeed, the Boise State student club, set the 155 mph record for World’s Fastest Vegetable Oil-Powered Vehicle back in 2011 but recently returned to the salt flats to give it another go as part of Speed Week 2013, an annual gathering of record setting velocity junkies and racers.
“We’ve come with high hopes,” said Greenspeed President Dave Schenker. “We have broken equipment before and this year we broke a transmission right off the bat.”
Schenker and colleagues were about to pack it in when a group of mechanics from the Boise area, who are sponsors of Greenspeed, saved the trip and a year's worth of planning.
“We broke a transmission right away, but is just so happens that Ultimate Transmission from Garden City were visiting, so they rebuilt the transmission on a tailgate for us,” Schenker said.
The entirety of a Sunday on the flats was spent on repairs and by the next day, team members had the truck up and running again.
“We were going slow, just to break it in,” Schenker said.
After trial runs to gauge the soundness of the vehicles parts, Greenspeed members decided to ready the truck for use with vegetable oil. Schenker and team members hope to attempt a new record Wed. Aug. 14, after modifying the racer for use with the plant based fuel.
“All the testing is done on diesel, because it’s a reliable fuel,” Schenker said. “Vegetable oil is actually not a good fuel.”
Schenker highlighted that use of vegetable oil in a combustion engine isn't a great idea, but he and other students wanted to create awareness of the potential of plant based energy sources.
“I just want to stress the fact that we don’t think vegetable oil is a good fuel, but is a good source of renewable energy,” Schenker said.