Greenspeed has some big news!

May 2015 Feature Dave Schenker

Hello all, 

It’s been a bit since you’ve heard from us; that’s because we’ve been working on some pretty big things!  

Past, Present, Future: 

Some know, but many don’t: the Greenspeed student club has been retired. It has grown into an Idaho non-profit organization that was granted IRS 501c3 status late last week. The name of this organization is Greenspeed Research (a.k.a. GsR). The mission of this organization is to conduct outreach for STEM disciplines and renewable energy technology. We do this in many ways, with two focuses at the moment: 

  1. A high school solar go-kart challenge. This is a hands-on learning experience that gets the next generation of thinkers familiar with new technologies and building 21st century skills. It has already received monetary support from the Treasure Valley Clean Cities Coalition and private donors, and product support from Painless Performance and Dagley, LLC. The first year will see 5 schools competing on the Boise State campus in mid-summer. We are currently seeking industry partners and citizen mentors. If you would like to be involved with shaping the future, we’ve got a spot for you!
  2. Pushing the boundaries of what renewable energy technologies are used for. This will be brought to life by continuing the current landspeed project (working closely with Boise State University students in the process, especially those in the new Green Energy Education Club) and taking the knowledge gained there to new areas of motorsports disciplines ever year.
Greenspeed Research has a new website: Please reference that moving forward. (Mobile version coming soon) 

The first new area of motorsports to benefit from our unique approach will be the SCORE International BAJA 1000 in November of 2015. "WHAT COULD SUCH A PROJECT BE?!?" you might ask? We are building a Trophy Truck. A real, honest to God trophy truck. From scratch. That will, of course, showcase our unique approach to all things motors & sports. This is another large undertaking (much like building a landspeed vehicle in three months), and we are once again the underdogs, but you know we are capable of success.  

Your support in this new adventure is greatly appreciated. In doing so, you will be joining an established team with proven abilities. Many of our partners in the landspeed project have chosen to be involved in this project, and we would love to have you on board too! Design is done and fabrication is about to start, so now is the perfect time to get involved! Please see the website above and reach out to us any time. 

New tools: 

GsR is committed to working closely with Boise State students, providing unique internship opportunities and sponsoring Senior Design projects. Currently, GsR is sponsoring an ME Senior Design project to build an engine dyno. It will be a water brake style, dual absorber setup, with a design goal of being able to hold 2,000 HP. This tool will give GsR the ability to extensively and accurately test all aspects of an engine system, in a controlled, steady state environment. Let us know if there is anything you’d like a comparison of for our first test!! The project will be complete in early May. 

New project: 

With the trophy truck build, we are introducing a new website: In conjunction with our GsR site, will follow all of our future trophy truck builds, step by step. 

It will be the place we showcase:

  • how we overcome the challenges such large projects ultimately face
  • how your products are integrated into our build
  • all the tutorials we can muster to help others bring their projects to life! 

New opportunities: 

As mentioned, we are currently looking for citizen mentors for the solar go-kart project. If you have an interest in helping young people learn how to be better critical thinkers, leaders, makers, and teammates, we can hook you up with a team of students in need of your expertise! Please let us know ASAP! 

New eyeballs: 

Dave had the opportunity to talk a little about GsR last week at Hackfort 2 in Boise. He was on stage with the inspiration for the Solar Go-kart Challenge. The segment can be seen here if you’re interested (you will have to turn it up a bit and listen through the right speaker). 

A new online article just came out a few days ago on It gives a great bit of history of the landspeed project, all in one place. Please give it a read. 


Last year was full of ups and downs. We prepped two complete race engines (one strictly for veg oil and one strictly for bio-diesel) with your help. We set (as far as we know) the highest recorded horsepower with 100% pure vegetable oil as a fuel (973 HP!!!). You might remember seeing us blow the tires off the truck during dyno testing (a first for a Northwest Motor Machine build) at Adrenaline Truck Performance. We graduated Greenspeed members and inducted new ones. We added some modifications for more traction for the back-end of the truck (you might also remember hearing about the tires breaking loose when getting over 200 MPH the year before). We met and forged a partnership with a bio-fuel manufacturer (Northstar Bio-fuels), which made traveling to (and running in) events so much easier. 

Then, Speed Week was cancelled for the first time since 1983!! It’s been postponed or stopped short since then, but never completely skipped over. The cause was up to 8” of standing water on the salt from huge rain storms in the area for weeks leading up to the event. All that prep and nowhere to go. We passed on a trip to World of Speed in September, hedging our bets on World Finals in October. Neither of those events had cooperative weather either…so once again, at the last minute, we decided to head to the season closer at El Mirage. We made a stop at SEMA on our way and showed off the truck. We had some great conversations and saw some amazing vehicles, as you might expect from SEMA. 

By the time we hit the dirt at El Mirage, we were feeling pretty darn good. Their course was said to be quite solid and speeds were creeping up. When we got through tech and to the start line, it was decided to try a push vehicle for the first time and get a little extra oomph off the line. Well, it turns out that with well over 900hp and the added traction measures, it wasn’t needed. Patrick, driving the chase vehicle, says that he had never seen the truck accelerate that quickly, ever. By about 2/3 of the way down, Dave noticed the gauges were doing their “power on sweep” from zero to pinned and back. He could tell the power was there, though, and kept it pointed at the fast approaching finish line. Shortly after, the engine literally slammed shut, while under full boost/load. The front end was torqued up so hard that Dave thought the front driver tire had popped when it shut off! Turns out the dirt has some traction! Thinking that, he pulled the chute and turned off course. Confused why the tire was completely fine when he get out to inspect the truck, he looked up to see the finish only a few hundred feet away... The search for the problem continued in the pits. Turns out the alternator charging cable had fallen off and shorted, taking the electrical system with it (which includes the “normally-closed” fuel solenoid) and shutting the truck off instantly. After some long talks with a Garrett engineer and the engine builders at Northwest Motor Machine, it was decided that attempting a run the next day was an acceptable thing to do. 

El Mirage is a very different experience than Bonneville. The salt flats are like going to a 36-mile-long cleanroom semiconductor manufacturing facility. Everybody leaves the salt by 8 PM and heads to the bright lights of the casinos in town for all-you-can-eat food and all-you-can-ogle hot-rods. You wake up the next day and start over. There never seems to be much of a rush involved (except when things go wrong), as you have a week to get what you came for. 

Being on the dirt is like waking up on the set of Mad Max. You camp in the pit, kept warm by race fuel, if necessary. There are ultralights and small planes flying around, as it is a popular recreation spot for all types from the surrounding areas and the weekend warriors of the LA Basin. Dirt bikes and ATVs are zipping around, leaving clouds of dust in the stagnant air. The vehicles on track do the same thing, leaving hopes for a slight breeze to come through so racing can continue. Wandering from camp to camp is how evenings are spent, meeting new people and catching up with old friends. 

The next morning brought hope of smashing the vegetable oil record once again, at the same place, on essentially the same day (the last day of landspeed racing in the US for the year) as four years previous, and maybe even taking the diesel record with it. Pulling off the line just wasn’t the same that day though, and while the truck did make it across the finish line, and even raised the recorded vegetable oil powered speed record by a few miles per hour, it wasn’t our day to shine. 

We are (of course) planning to attend Speed Week 2015, and cordially invite you to join us. We will again have two engines prepped for the race, and plan to be running every day. There is even talk of a wedding taking place on the start line…and we would love to see you all there. 

Thanks for another great year, and we hope you join us for many more! 

The Greenspeed Research Team 

And of course, some pictures! All courtesy of Mike Shipman/Blue Planet Photography.

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