In mid-November, the members Greenspeed club headed to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to put their Chevy pickup truck to the test. Stripped of all aesthetics, running on a '93 Dodge engine and burning an unorthodox fuel, it was there to challenge the land speed record for vegetable oil-powered vehicles: 109 mph. On its first run, it flew past that benchmark at 139 mph. On its second, it set the new bar even higher: 155 mph.
The journey to success was not a quick one. Dave Schenker founded the club at Boise State University with a group of undergraduates, with the intention of building the first super high-performance vehicle to successfully run on vegetable oil. He spent months raising the $125,000 from local sponsors to rebuild the old truck with the parts it would need to set a new record. He and the students spent much of the summer putting it together. They hoped to race in September, but couldn't get everything together in time.
The end goal was to prove that vegetable oil is a viable alternative to conventional gasoline and diesel. That's why Greenspeed went after the record with a used pickup truck and not a vehicle that with the aerodynamics of a rocket and about the same level of practicality. Schenker wanted to "do something that everyone can relate to" said group member Seth Fueurborn.
But Greenspeed isn't happy with leaving things at 155 mph. The new goal is to refine the truck, putting on tires that can handle even higher speeds and installing a heat exchanger system so the vegetable oil can be heated to the necessary temperature inside the car rather than outside it. They're also going to focus a bit more on aesthetics, making the bare bones speed machine not only faster, but into something you could imagine passing you on the highway.
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