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Future Fuels Race Draws Little Attention
If everything would have gone right, the Future Fuels Challenge Rally, run last fall, would have been one of the most widely publicized, closely watched events of the decade. As it was, 38 cars, powered by everything from sunflower oil to wood to alcohol, "raced'' 3,226 miles from Los Angeles, Calif., to Rochester, N.Y. and almost nobody noticed.
The entrants were attracted by the lure of a $25,000 grand prize and the prospect of a continuous, seven day barrage of publicity as the caravan of alternative fuel vehicles made its way across America. Unfortunately, things went wrong from the very beginning.
Some of the cars scheduled to run in the race, which was based on fuel efficiency rather than speed, were to run on unusual types of fuel, including prunes, wood chips, solar cells, alcohols and artichokes. One entry ran on used cooking oil from a fried chicken franchise.
The primary sponsor for the race was Joe Shepard, president of Shepard Electronics, Rochester, N.Y. Shepard says he didn't plan the rally with the idea of making a profit but to find and promote alternative fuel vehicles.
Unfortunately, nothing went right for the race promoters. First, they had plans for some 200 entries but ended up with only the final 38. Then, after renting a large exhibition hall in Los Angeles for a sum of $5,000 to kick off the race, only 18 spectators showed up. But by far the worst problem was that soon after the race got underway, the man in charge of all the details of the race, coordinator David Carmichael, was critically injured in a car accident in Phoenix and many of the details of the race went unattended.
Carmichael, still recuperating in a hospital when FARM SHOW talked to him shortly before this issue went to press, says it was unfortunate that so many things went wrong but that he has a second race planned for next September.
Entrants who competed included Archer Daniels Midland with an alcohol-powered Ford Fiesta and a sunflower-powered Volkswagen Rabbit diesel, Conoco, Ford Motor Co., B.F. Goodrich, Mother Earth News, Real People and many individuals and small companies.
The winner of the race, determined by dividing the weight of the vehicle into the number of btu's used, was difficult to determine because of the wide variety of fuels, and the difficulty in measuring them. As this issue went to press, race officials had decided to divide the prize money evenly among all contestants who finished the race.
For information on next year's race, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, David Carmichael, Future Fuels Challenge Rally, 165 Gibbs St., Rochester, N.Y. 14605 (ph 716 232-7485).


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1982 - Volume #6, Issue #1