When I sent out the point paper on natural gas (NG), highlighting what appears to be a vast expansion of gas production through “unconventional means”, a number of you were in agreement but some had reservations. A few doubted that natural gas could be converted for use in the transportation sector as fast or as effectively as I noted (and as Dr. Scire has claimed) and questioned its ability to power larger trucks or cars.
Well, let me highlight one individual who is using compressed natural gas (CNG) quite efficiently in the world of high speed racing. Specifically, Roger Lessman of Truckee and Reno, has designed and built this very successful racing car that will attempt to set a land speed record of over 400 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats this year in the AA/BG class (“AA” relates to all cars running with over 500 cubic inch displacement; “BG” means Blown Gas).
Roger wanted to build a car that had a “green tint” to it and ran on alternative fuels. He was convinced by friends at Colorado St. University to switch to CNG. Lessman is now doing something that has not been done before—trying to get a large amount of horsepower out of a piston engine using CVNG as the fuel. The engine is an aluminum racing version of a “big block” Ford 460, with a displacement of 572 cubic inches, twin turbo-charged, and “all the race stuff inside”. He believes the car can reach speeds over 400 mph at the Flats—he already has gone over 332, the fastest a CNG-powered car has gone.
Of course Roger is not alone in this endeavor, with a team that stretches from a friend in Smith Valley, NV, to the Riley Technologies firm, and his partner, Reno based lobbyist Susan Fisher. He keeps the “Streamliner” in his garage in Truckee and will bring it to Reno prior to heading for the Salt Flats and a shot at the record.
In the endeavor Roger says he has become a strong advocate of using CNG as a partial solution to our energy problems and specifically to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He thinks current engines can be easily modified to use CNG, which costs less than half what gasoline does per energy equivalent.
Want more on Roger, the Streamliner and the use of CNG in high-powered racing cars? See his website—www.lessmanracing.com