Greenspeed World Record

Five Guys, a Girl, a Garage and a World Record

November 2012 Feature, Cummins, Chips, Exhaust, Injectors, Transmission, Turbos Lee Lovell

Great things often come from small beginnings. Such is the case with Greenspeed, a student club from Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Dave Schenker, founder of Greenspeed, started the club with the idea of sharing the power of biofuel in its purest form, vegetable oil, and breaking a land-speed record at the same time.

Editor's note: Greenspeed was featured in our Nov 2012 Diesel Tech magazine issue in the Shop Talk section. The following is the full account as written by the Greenspeed team.

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Greenspeed: Five Guys, a Girl, a Garage, and a World Record.

Greenspeed, a student club at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and founded by Dave Schenker, became a student group in June of 2010. As Dave saw it, what better way to share the power of bio-fuels then to use its most raw form, pure vegetable oil, and put it in the tank of common truck souped-up to take world records on an international stage? Dave was joined in this idea by Electrical Engineering junior Adrian Rothenbuhler, and after finding their advisor (John Gardner Ph.D, Director of the CAES Energy Efficiency Research Institute), it was May of 2011. The group moved into their newly donated shop from member Jen Kniss with a handful of their personal tools and a used 1998 Chevy S10 from craigslist. Finals had just ended for the semester and it was time to begin their work stripping and rebuilding their used truck with a diesel engine from a 1993 Dodge Ram.

They had just two and half months to construct a vegetable oil powered truck from the bare frame to a finished speed machine before Speed Week's time trial season began the following August. They had the same two and half months to simultaneously raise the funds and parts needed for the project. With a starting budget of zero, it was going to be difficult.

The group could be found all hours of the day for those months, and often late into the night, on the phone, grinding metal, welding modifications to the frame, and even napping in their cars between hours of fabrication.

Dave made hundreds of calls to the over 70 sponsors who rallied to support the project and its total cost came to nearly $125,000 in donated parts and funds.

Because of the short timeframe, Ultimate Transmission let the team use a mockup transmission to modify the truck while the race transmission was prepped at the Ultimate shop. Parts were arriving everyday at the Greenspeed shop, and fabrication largely revolved around what parts arrived the previous afternoon.

The time spent designing the truck prior to the summer allowed the team to move quickly as the parts arrived as the deadline for Speed Week approached. In the meantime, Dave forged a working relationship with the Southern California Timing Association's (SCTA) Jim Dunn and Steve Davies as they reviewed the truck's construction and design every few days to assure they would meet SCTA regulations before Speed Week's Tech inspection.

On the eve of Speed Week's open tech inspection, Greenspeed arranged to have their remaining parts shipped to the Salt Flats - they would have to finish the truck on the Salt. The engine was being assembled by Big Twin Diesel and was dropped into the truck just in the knick of time. With the truck on the trailer and Boise State helping to fund the week's worth of travel and accommodation, the crew packed their tools, welders, generators, and tents on a trailer and drove the 6 hours to Wendover UT- just outside the famed Bonneville Salt Flats.

As they pulled into the tech inspection area of Speed Week headquarters, a swarm of inspectors and spectators gathered to view the truck and one inspector asked: "How long you been working on this project, about 2 years, yeah?"

The inspectors walked through the truck's components and safety features starting with the 10-pt roll cage and frame reinforcement with over 200 feet of 1.75" by 0.120" wall D.O.M tubing and the four-link rear suspension using FKRodends (of monster truck and BAJA1000 fame) designed by Patrick Johnston. Safety features also included 20 pounds of DJ Safety fire suppression for the driver and engine at Dave's fingertips. The cockpit glows green from Adrian's full telemetry system gathering data from nearly 35 sensors for (among others) temperature, pressure, hall effect and speed - all accessible through Jen's networking system via a web server in real time. The 106mm primary and 64mm secondary Turbonetics ceramic ball bearing turbos provide upwards 100 pounds of boost, and are held together with SS and aluminum piping and clamps from Vibrant Performance. The waste gate is electronically controlled to keep the turbos at their optimum efficiency (custom Greenspeed innovation by Dave and Adrian).

The 5.9L Cummins engine required no modifications for vegetable oil, but is tricked out with high performance parts by Carrillo (billet connecting rods), the 5- axis CNC ported head from C-TECH Performance makes good use of Hamilton Cams springs and some snazzy Harland Sharp roller rockers, MAHLE Clevite (fly cut pistons and bearings), Jet-Hot Coating (ceramic coatings for the pistons), Total Seal rings for a nice tight fit, Dynomite Diesel Performance (injectors), FERREA (custom valves), ATS Diesel (exhaust manifold), Pure Diesel Power (push rods), Victor Reinz (gaskets). The block was completely reworked and rotating assembly balanced by Northwest Motor Machine and everything is held together with A1 Technologies fasteners. Fuel gets to the engine via a FASS Platinum Series pump. All of these engine additions were carefully assembled by Pat Liskey at Big Twin Diesel. After just an hour of dyno tuning on a Dynojet248 (that's all the team could afford), the truck put down 708hp and 1099ft/lbs of torque at the rear wheels.

Boise's Ultimate Transmission built the custom transmission based on 47 and 48RE's and some billet parts added to the mix. The rear end was bolstered with a high performance quick-change rear with 20 gears for available gear ratios of 1.20 to 3.33. Fuel is provided by a dual-tank system in order to start the engine on diesel while the vegetable oil is brought up to 185 degrees. (The vegetable oil's temperature is important for proper viscosity when passing through the engine's injectors.)

After an hour of inspectors milling about the truck, Greenspeed passed initial inspection with a few required changes and adjustments to be made, but only 24 hours to complete the changes and get a second inspection before joining the other vehicles at the start line. Just an hour and half before the courses would close for the entire event, the starter went out on the truck. A short was caused by a dropped wrench at the wrong moment while adjusting the emergency shut off. Scrambling, the crew followed Seth Feuerborn's lead on an idea and managed to start the truck with just an hour to the end of the event.

After much rewiring and crossed fingers, the truck made it to the start line for it's first ever run down the salt - unfortunately it would only run on diesel for its rookie and 2nd run - otherwise it would have become the World's Fastest Vegetable Oil Powered Vehicle on its first run. The officials held the course open for the team to make a second run, clocking in at 137.681mph. It was a huge moment for Greenspeed as they watched their leader Dave drive the vehicle on it's own power for the first time down the salt.

The next attempt would mean running on pure vegetable oil and taking that record, but it was not so easy. At World of Speed, two cracked cylinders on their first run thwarted the crew. The engine would have to be repaired in less than three weeks for the team to participate in World Finals in October, the last event of the year on the salt. Big Twin Diesel, Northwest Motor Machine, and MAHLEClevite came through with amazing haste. As the team was packing to leave Boise, Jim Dunn called Dave to break the news: World Finals was officially rained out. There was only one chance left to get a record in 2011: El Mirage in November - a nearly 16 hour drive from Boise State.

After a grueling drive and a single hour of sleep for each of the members and their helpers, it was a flawless two days at the El Mirage Dry Lake Bed. The Greenspeed truck became the World's Fastest Vegetable-Oil Powered Vehicle on its first run down the 1.3-mile course, timed at 139.881mph. They topped their own record with 155.331mph the following day. Greenspeed's hollers and cheers could be heard across the El Mirage racer-city as the records were announced. A week later, SCTA officials made pure vegetable oil an official fuel for their Diesel Truck class for the first time in history, allowing Greenspeed to take on other records sanctioned by SCTA.

Following their success on the course, the team was invited to Washington D.C. for the Washington Auto Show to visit with thousands of spectators and public officials; including Idaho Senator Jim Risch and U.S. Department of Transportation's Ray Lahood. Accompanied by Boise State's head of research Mark Rudin, team members Jenny and Ken Fukumoto visited Capitol Hill to speak with the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology. Dave had the opportunity to shake President Obama's hand as he passed through their display area and the team was featured in an array of news spanning USA Today, CSPAN, The New York Times, Wired.com and many more.

And it's not over yet. The team is heading to Speed Week 2012 in hopes of overtaking the petroleum-powered diesel record in their class, currently set at 215mph, with vegetable oil as their fuel. Joining the 200mph club is their minimum goal this year and work has already begun in their shop, tucked away in Garden City, ID. More sponsors are being sought for their other needs, including an enclosed trailer, parts for their new common rail engine, bigger shop space, and other miscellaneous parts and funding. The team has taken on new members - some of whom had already been involved since the early days of Greenspeed. Mechanical Engineering freshman Mike Van Kirk, professional fabricator Luke Granden, and Electrical Engineering junior Jared Arave will pitch in as the newest members to get Greenspeed to the finish line again and ultimately to its new goals.

In addition, the team is investigating its options to make this student-driven project a permanent part of the Boise State's offerings as an engaging Engineering environment. If nothing else, the team may decide to make their efforts a non-profit organization that works closely with education in an attempt to bolster engineering drives in young adults in a hands-on way.

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