SEATTLE 2008: Hydro racing legend Chip Hanauer will try to qualify hydroplane using bio-fuels
SEATTLE, Wash. - It runs on 80% coconut oil. Really. This weekend, we'll get to see Erick Ellstrom's backup boat, the U-787, run on bio-fuels.
It's a joint project between Ellstrom, the folks at Boeing and Tracy Bratvold of Whispering Turbines. The idea was to build a turbine engine that runs on renewable energy resources.
In mid-July, hydroplane racing legend Chip Hanauer joined the effort, taking the U-787 out for a test drive. Things went well enough that Hanauer will be at Seafair, in the cockpit of the U-787 to take it out for qualifying.
It's been ten years since Hanauer has raced an Unlimited Hydroplane in competition. And while he'll take the boat out to run some qualifying laps, don't look for him to race again. "I don't want to race," said Hanauer during a news conference in Seattle. "If I can qualify in the middle of the pack - and not hit the I-90 bridge - I'll be happy."
Hanauer said he's happy to help make the statement that renewables work, and can work in racing as well. A successful test could be the catalyst to a revolution in motor sports - a move to bio-fuels.
How well does the engine run on bio-fuel?
Hanauer said the boat runs better than any boat he drove during his days racing Unlimited Hydroplanes. "If I didn't know (it was running on bio-fuels), I wouldn't have known the difference," he said.
It's every but as powerful as anything we have currently, said Ellstrom.