Will This Veggie Oil-Powered Racecar Beat All Odds?

When my friend Dave Schenker—Boise State mechanical engineering student and registered racecar-freak—told me he was going to build the world's fastest vegetable oil-powered vehicle, I jumped on the chance to tell the story. Over two years, I filmed the Greenspeed team, made up of BSU engineering students who set out to build and race a vegetable powered vehicle at Bonneville Speed Week. With one record broken at over 155 mph at El Mirage in 2011, Greenspeed proved that vegetable oil is a viable source of energy. Capable of burning three fuel types (bio-fuel, vegetable oil, diesel), the team’s vehicle took a chance on breaking all three records in those classes.

Coming into this project, I realized that vegetable oil could never replace petroleum-based fuels, simply due to the fact that the cost to get vegetable oil from the farm to the pump is just too high and actually uses more petroleum product in the process. Instead, I was interested in the fact that students such as Patrick Johnston, the club Vice President, was attempting to bring attention to alternative fuels in an effort to see them being used in other racing sports in the future; and the fact that crew chief Jenny Kniss hoped to pass her knowledge of mechanics onto other women using a sport that's long been dominated by men.

If the Greenspeed team could build a race vehicle and break a world record on vegetable oil, then who's to say someone down the road wouldn't try and break a world record with solar-powered electricity? I’m hoping that my documentary Greenspeed will inspire people to turn to alternative methods or at least consider being more environmentally conscious. I see the film being used in the classroom to teach students and educators what a student-run organization is actually capable of.

Pioneering a new category of motor sports comes with lots of trials and tribulations, including blown motors, sleepless nights, and months of fundraising, all out of sheer determination to succeed. Every August, life bursts forth from Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in the form of high octane and nitrous. A historic place known for land speed records, Bonneville has had its share of speed junkies and colorful characters that make up its character. It's an event with no prize money, just bragging rights for the fastest. The Greenspeed team hopes to claim that recognition while bringing awareness to alternative fuels.

If you want to tell their story, please support our Kickstarter campaign.

This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

Join us for our Fix Your Street Challenge on the last Saturday of May. Click here to say you'll Do It and be sure to share stories of transportation innovation all month.\n
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less