Driver Hopes to Shift the Indy 500 Into Neutral

Up until now the greenest thing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was probably the golf course that crosses the infield of the two and a half mile oval. This May, that could change.

In an exclusive interview with FOX Car Report LIVE! , former Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe said that he is planning to enter the first carbon neutral team to compete in a major professional motorsport at the 2009 Indy 500.

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In collaboration with HVM Racing, who will field the car for Philippe, the “i Drive Green” team is taking steps become the first to take the green flag at The Brickyard carrying a green certification from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

“All the crew members and all of the mechanics, they’re not happy about it but they have all had to become eco drivers, the truck driver has become an eco driver as well, and the goal is to make sure that we can offset our carbon footprint,” Philippe says.

In conjunction with the race, Philippe will be teaming up with EcoDrivingUSA, an educational organization backed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to hold a series of events at the track aiming educating people on how they can drive the cars they currently own in a more efficient manner.

“You don’t have to have a hybrid car to get better mileage, you can have a big pickup and if you learn how to become an ecodriver you can increase your fuel mileage by up to 33 percent and drastically reduce your future emissions right now.”

Casual observers of the sport may not realize that auto racing isn’t always about keeping your foot to the floor as much as possible. Drivers often conserve fuel to get a competitive edge, spending less time in the pits refueling as a result.

Philippe explains, “the way we save fuel in the racecar, which translates to ecodriving techniques, is to be smooth with the accelerator. I don’t have a cruise control in my car, but I try to keep the gas pedal at the same level and try not to rev it too much.”

Philippe adds that he is working with the mayor of Indianapolis, Greg Ballard, on even bigger plans for next year.

“The goal is that for 2010 we make the whole Indy 500 event a carbon neutral event.”

All of the cars in the Indy Racing League currently run on ethanol, which is a renewable fuel, but the debate is still open as to whether or not its production and use emit less carbon overall than gasoline.

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