Alfred State Shines in 2012 Green Grand Prix

Determined to beat their record from last year, 60 students and four faculty/staff members returned to Watkins Glen International Raceway in April for the 2012 Toyota Green Grand Prix. They brought home another win in fuel economy, second place overall for the Saturday road rally around Seneca Lake, and were awarded the Auto Career Development Center Excellence in Innovation Award.

After bringing home a best-in-class distinction last year with the Alfred State 2003 Honda Insight, winning best in fuel economy for its class with 89 mpg, they were ready to try to outperform not only others in the class but their own achievements from 2011. The team also took the College’s plug-in hybrid 2009 Toyota Prius, a 2009 Chevy Malibu converted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), and a 2012 extended range, electric Chevy Volt at the event.

The only road rally designated for fuel efficient, alternative fuel, and hybrid vehicles in the U.S., the Green Grand Prix holds races for fuel mileage on the Watkins Glen track - a three-hour task where competitors must maintain a set speed of at least 45 mph - and road rallies that take local roads around Seneca Lake. The Alfred State gas-powered Honda Insight reached a stunning 95.1 mpg in fuel economy on the Glen’s track, capturing first in its class for 51-65 mpg vehicles. Comparatively, it had better mileage than some plug-in hybrids, trucks, and biodiesel cars.

The other entries from the Alfred State fleet did not remain idle for the weekend while the Insight was winning: Kent Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Automotive Trades department, took the Chevy Malibu to a second-place finish overall in the Saturday time-speed-distance road rally around the lake; Craig Clark, dean of the School of Applied Technology, ran the same Chevrolet Malibu in Friday’s rally; and William Weaver, an instructor in Automotive Trades department, managed a 78 mpg average with the Prius on the Glen track race. The brand new Chevrolet Volt, acquired as part of a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, was driven by Barb Davis from the dean’s office of the School of Applied Technology, and held its own with an average of 82 mpg on the Glen track.

In addition to these outstanding numbers, the representatives of the College also received the inaugural Auto Career Development Center Excellence in Innovation Award and its $1,000 prize. Those funds will be used by the department in preparation for its upcoming land speed record attempt in August at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Competitors included Corning Community College, St. Clair Community College in Michigan, West Philadelphia High School in Pennsylvania, Rochester Institute of Technology, Elmira College, Clean Communities of Central New York, and the County of Schuyler. The 2012 Toyota Green Grand Prix was sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Corning Inc., Doris Bovee Memorial Foundation, Sports Car Club of America, Auto Career Development Center, Clean Cities Coalition of Central New York, and the International Motor Racing Research Center.

2012 Green Grand Prix

Alfred State is presented with the Auto Career Development Center Excellence in Innovation Award. Pictured here are (left to right): Craig Van Batenburg, CEO of ACDC; Bob Gillespie, Green Grand Prix representative; and Kent Johnson, associate professor and chair, Automotive Trades, at Alfred State.