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"The Relay" Online Newsletter
June 2023 Issue

This is the monthly online newsletter for the car club council. All car hobbyist events are listed on this site under "Calendar." Just click on the link above to view the list of car shows and other activities.

President's Message

Thanks to those who ignored the weather forecast and made it to the 4th Breakthrough Show and 28th anniversary of the council. If you have any suggestions or comments on the show please email them to me. We will do it again next year.

Now that the Covid emergency is over the car show and cruise-in calendar is filled with events - more than ever before. You have lots of choices and I encourage you to participate in these events since many of them benefit charities.

It looks like people are starting to realize that we can't exist with only green energy - check the car hobbyist news below. While state and federal governments are trying their best to get people to buy EVs at the same time they are trying to get the automakers to stop building gas and diesel vehicles. We know this is not going to turn out well. The same people that want you to buy an EV are doing nothing to build the grid infrastructure that is needed. They are against even nuclear power - we can only have the most expensive unreliable solar and wind energies. Since the sun doesn't shine all the time and the wind doesn't blow all the time batteries will have to store the electricity - just like the people who live off the grid in Alaska do. This sure doesn't seem like progress. EVs have many problems - high cost, long charging time, lack of chargers, expensive batteries that will somehow have to be disposed or recycled and of course EV fires.

Even politicians are noticing what is happening - check out the story below on RFK Jr who is running for president as a democrat against Joe Biden. Here's a quote from that story: “And if you look closely, as it turns out, the guys who are promoting those engineering solutions are the people who own … the patents for those solutions,” Kennedy said during Iversen’s show. “It’s a way they’ve given climate chaos a bad name because people now see that it’s just another crisis that’s being used to strip mine the wealth of the poor and to enrich billionaires.”

We need to keep spreading the truth about green energy. We need to let people know this isn't about weather it's about controlling the population and making certain rich people richer. The news media and the politicians can't keep the truth hidden. It will come out sooner or later and we are seeing that with some of the political revelations of late. Elections matter and we have a state election this November and a federal one the next November. We the people need to vote the right people into office.

~ Fred

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be Monday, August 28th at 6:30 PM at a location in the August newsletter.

Should have looked before backing

Car Hobbyist News

As expected the EPA has issued a proposed rule for power plant emissions. The EPA wants to either end the burning of fossil fuels for the production of electricity or those power plants can install carbon capture to trap carbon dioxide before it gets into the atmosphere. There is one problem - that technology doesn't exist. So the Biden administration is giving out $3.5 billion in grants in hope that someone or some company will develop this new technology. Currently about 75% of our electricity is generated from fossil fuels. The other 25% comes from hydro-electric, nuclear, solar and wind. If the government expects everyone to be driving EVs and giving up natural gas and propane for electricity then where are we going to get all that newly needed electric power? It just doesn't make sense.

We do get to vote this November and also in November 2024 so hopefully we can elect people who understand the problems associated with getting rid of fossil fuels. There are over 6,000 different products made from oil. It will be very difficult to stop using or even cutting back on oil, coal and natural gas.

Recall that Virginia is under California car rules thanks to the 2021 session of the General Assembly. California has asked the EPA for permission to ban the sale of all gasoline powered vehicles by 2035 (article below). What does this mean for Virginia - well unless the General Assembly can repeal the bill linking us to California next session (the repeal bills didn't make it through the Senate during the 2023 session) we are looking at a ban on sales of new gasoline only powered vehicles in 2035.

But what do the people want? A recent poll by Hearts + Minds Strategies of Reston, Virginia asked that question. Below is from their website: "The “climate change” debate is one of the hottest issues in America, usually pitting one side against the other, with no room for common ground. The rising popularity of sustainability initiatives and advancements in energy technologies could cause even further division, as there is a lot of disagreement when it comes to the climate conversation. But the data shows that Americans actually do agree on some things — in our most recent Heart+Mind Pulse survey in February 2023, we found that 2 in 3 Americans want a balanced energy approach of investing in zero emission technologies while also working to improve and reduce emissions from current fossil fuel energies. Renewables top the list of sources to expand, however, most do not believe that fossil energy sources should be phased out completely. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans also agree that it’s important for the U.S. to be energy independent."

Also from the poll when asked about whether they wanted traditional energy sources, renewable, or both, 64% said both and 23% said traditional only. Only 12% of respondents favored pure renewable. This is pretty much the opposite of what the media and government officials are preaching. Looks like the people want to keep oil, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and coal along with going with renewables.

An interesting thing about age was noted by the polling - younger people buy into climate change and believe action should be taken. The older people don't buy into climate change and they don't believe that we can take actions that will change the weather. I think this is because the younger people have been exposed to lessons at school that border on propaganda while older people have years of experience.

So there is hope that people will realize the push towards replacing gas and diesel vehicles with EVs has some serious problems.

Backlash for Biden - from an Epoch Times Story: "The House voted on May 23 to overturn the Biden administration’s rule on heavy-duty vehicles’ tailpipe emissions, the latest knock against the president’s environmental agenda in a closely divided Congress and the forerunner to an expected Biden veto. The short piece of legislation would roll back a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for trucks in December 2022. The rule “sets stronger emissions standards to further reduce air pollution, including pollutants that create ozone and particulate matter, from heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting in model year 2027,” according to the EPA. Heavy-duty vehicles are those with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 8,500 pounds. Heavier light-duty pickup trucks such as the Ford F-250 and the Chevy Silverado 2500 have GVWRs that top out above that, as do even heavier pickups like the Ford F-350."

Good new and now this - automakers are talking about doing away with AM radios in vehicles. I know a lot of people are not happy about new vehicles without CD players where you have to pay for satellite radio or go with Apple Play or Goggle Play. A bill was introduced into Congress to make the automakers keep AM radio so people listening can hear emergency messages. This started because electric vehicle makers say electric engines interfere with the sound of AM stations and they are not putting them into EVs. Ford wanted to stop putting AM in all vehicles. Thanks to that bill in Congress Ford has dropped the plan. There are 4,185 AM stations in America and if the automakers stopped putting in AM then those stations could go out of business.

Now a happy quote: “President Biden is shamelessly pushing electrification of the entire transportation sector without regard for the significant environmental, economic, and national security risk it will cause,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Maybe Congress is waking up to what is going on.

Why not another quote: Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Mark Christie’s testimony to a US Senate hearing, backed by three other commissioners (two of them Democratic appointees). Their warning: Replacing reliable energy with unreliable solar and wind is a prescription for disaster. Notes Christie: “The United States is heading for a very catastrophic situation in terms of reliability. The arithmetic doesn’t work…This problem is coming. It’s coming quickly. The red lights are flashing.”

Old School Hot Rodders of Virginia Spring Show
Old School Hot Rodders of Virginia Spring Show May 6 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

California Seeks EPA Approval To Ban Sales Of New gasoline-only Vehicles By 2035

From Reuters
California has asked the Biden administration to approve its plan to require all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 to be either electric or plug-in electric hybrids, a landmark move that could speed the end of gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which approved the plan in August, asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday to approve a waiver under the Clean Air Act to implement its new rules that set yearly rising zero emission vehicle rules starting in 2026 and would end the sales of vehicles only powered by gasoline by 2035.

"These vehicles will permanently displace emissions from conventional vehicles," wrote CARB Executive Officer Steven Cliff, adding that motor vehicles and other mobile sources are the greatest source of emissions in California.

The Biden administration has repeatedly refused to endorse setting a date to phase-out the sale of gasoline-only vehicles.

EPA spokesperson Tim Carroll said "as with all waiver requests from California, we’ll follow an open public process in considering it, as the agency routinely does."

In a Reuters interview last month, EPA Administrator Michael Regan declined to say how the EPA would react to a California request. "We’ll be on the lookout for that if it were to ever come," Regan said.

Under an EPA proposal released in April to drastically cut vehicle emissions through 2032, automakers are forecast to produce 60% EVs by 2030 and 67% by 2032 to meet requirements, compared with just 5.8% of U.S. vehicles sold in 2022 that were EVs.

California's zero-emission rules will cut by 25% smog-causing pollution from light-duty vehicles by 2037. The rules mandate that 35% of the new cars sold be plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), EVs or hydrogen fuel cell by 2026. That proportion will rise to 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

The 60-page California waiver request seen by Reuters says through 2040, California's zero emission rules will cost $210.35 billion but have total benefits of $301.41 billion.

A growing number of states are adopting California's electric vehicle rules that are more stringent than what the Biden administration has proposed. Earlier this month, Rhode Island joined Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, New York, and Massachusetts in adopting the California requirements.

CARB's regulation would allow automakers to sell up to 20% PHEVs by 2035 and by then would need a minimum 50-mile (80.5-km) all-electric range label to qualify.

NHTSA Proposes Pedestrian Crash Tests

From Hagerty News
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed updates to its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include pedestrian crashworthiness tests, according to Automotive News. The updates would add tests to measure pedestrian protection in a vehicle collision, plus test the ability of advanced driver-assistance systems to prevent such a collision, according to NHTSA’s request for public comment issued Monday. “These proposed updates to NCAP are an important step in addressing the crisis of roadway deaths in America,” NHTSA chief counsel Ann Carlson said in a statement. “Vehicles must be designed to protect their occupants while increasing safety for those outside the vehicle, too.”

Exhaust: Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years, a trend blamed on worsening driving behaviors since the pandemic. Drivers struck and killed 3434 people in the first six months of 2022, the most recent data available. That amounted to an average of 19 fatalities per day.

You can see the NHTSA's request for public comment at this link: This notice requests comment on a proposal to update the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to provide consumers with information about crashworthiness pedestrian protection of new vehicles.

OBX Rod and Custom Festival 2023 Part 1
Ron Tatum is a member of the Richmond Metropolitan Antique Car Club of Virginia, a council member club

Toxicity of Lithium-Ion Batteries at Odds With Push for Electric Vehicles

From The Epoch Times
Government leaders are pushing for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), but there are concerns about the vast amounts of mineral mining necessary for battery production and the ensuing waste management issues taking a toll on the environment.

Lithium, the primary component of an EV battery, can be highly environmentally polluting in its extraction and discarding phases.

A major issue with lithium mining is the quantity of water required. Mining just 1 ton of lithium can use up to 2.2 million gallons of water, according to AZO Cleantech. This results in the depletion of water sources close to mining regions and drying out of land, posing a threat to not only the environment of the region but also communities living in the vicinity.

Lithium batteries use various elements like nickel, copper, and lead, which can all be toxic.

The open-pit mining method of extracting minerals required for batteries involves clearing out vegetation and digging a deep pit, creating the circumstances for erosion, according to UL Research Institutes.

According to a January 2023 study by the Climate and Community Project, if America’s current EV demand is projected to 2050, the U.S. market would need three times the current world supply of lithium to meet the demand. This requires a massive expansion of mining activities that can bring about enormous changes to landscapes and living conditions.

The Real Carbon Footprint
A 2019 study by Circular Energy Storage (pdf) calculated that production of an NCM111 lithium battery results in 73 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions per kilowatt-hour (kWh). NCM111 batteries contain one-third nickel, one-third cobalt, and one-third manganese in the cathode.

This means a considerable carbon footprint is generated by an electric vehicle before it hits the road compared to cars with an internal combustion engine.

Over 50 percent of the world’s lithium resources are said to be lying beneath salt flats in the Andean regions of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Lithium mining and other mining activities have consumed 65 percent of the water in Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile. This has depleted groundwater and contaminated the soil.

In Tibet, lithium mining from Chinese operations has reportedly leaked chemicals like hydrochloric acid into the Liqi River, which ended up killing livestock and poisoning the fish, according to the Harvard International Review.

Deadly Lithium Fires
Fires triggered by lithium-ion batteries are another concern with the increasing use of EVs.

In New York City in 2022, there were 220 fires caused by the batteries in e-micromobility devices, such as e-bikes, up from 44 fires in 2020, Mayor Eric Adams’ office announced in March.

“These fires are particularly severe and difficult to extinguish, spreading quickly, and producing noxious fumes,” officials said in a news release.

Between 2021 and 2022, such fires resulted in 226 injuries and 10 deaths, city officials said. In the first two months of 2023, 40 injuries and two deaths have been linked to battery fires. E-bike usage shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic after the bikes were legalized in New York.

Thousands of delivery workers rely on these devices for their jobs, officials said.

Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn pointed out that incidents of electric batteries exploding have happened both when they were being charged and otherwise. This has resulted in many areas of the city opting to ban the batteries in the devices.

“Lithium-Ion batteries are known to unexpectedly re-ignite (without warning) minutes, hours and even days after all visible fire has been put out,” the FDNY warned in a report on safety recommendations (pdf). The batteries “can enter an uncontrollable, self-heating state. This can result in the release of gas, cause fire and possible explosion.”

In January, a Tesla Model S burst into flames in California while the driver was on Highway 50, causing two eastbound lanes to close. The battery reportedly “spontaneously” caught fire, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

Firefighters used about 6,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze as the lithium battery “continued to combust,” with officials making use of car jacks to lift the vehicle in order to put out the fire underneath it.

The amount of water needed to put out lithium fires is much higher than in fires from gas-powered vehicles.

Electronic Waste Risks
The increasing use of electric lithium batteries also poses a challenge about how to discard them without harming the environment.

Scott Thibodeau is the general manager of environmental services and solutions at Veolia North America, the second largest hazmat removal service in the United States. Thibodeau told The Epoch Times in September that safety is the greatest challenge associated with these batteries.

Thibodeau pointed out that lithium-ion batteries can’t be dumped or recycled as easily as other materials because of the chemistry of the components. Over 6 million EV battery packs are set to become scrap by 2030.

In China, decommissioned electric car batteries are estimated to hit 780,000 tons by 2025.

“A 20-gram cell phone battery can pollute a water body equivalent to three standard swimming pools. If it is buried in the ground, it can pollute one square kilometer (247 acres) of land for about 50 years,” Wu Feng, a professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, told The Epoch Times in 2021.

Electric car batteries are much larger than cell-phone batteries and will thus have bigger impacts. According to Li Yongwang, a chemical engineering expert in China, burying electric batteries poses a danger to people’s lives since they can explode from heat.

In the United States, the federal government and various state governments are currently promoting the shift to electric vehicles by insisting that it will be good for the environment.

The Biden administration is offering incentives for the purchase of such vehicles via the Inflation Reduction Act.

In August 2021, Biden announced that half of all cars and trucks sold in the United States by 2030 should be electric. States like California intend to ban the sale of gas cars by 2035.

British Night Chesterfield Cruise-In
British Night Chesterfield Cruise-In May 6 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window Photo by Jeff Malo

4th Annual Breakthrough Car Show - 28th Anniversary of the Council

The 4th Annual Breakthrough Car Show - 28th Anniversary of the Council was held at Hart Farm, Pamplin Historic Park Museum of the Civil War Soldier on Saturday May 13th. The big news was the weather. The weather people were calling for a 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms. We checked the weather constantly over the previous two days including multiple forecasts that had everything from rain all day to PM storms. I know from living in this area my entire life that when rain comes from the west the mountains always slow it down from what the forecasters say. And that is what happened - we did not get rain, the grass wasn't wet and the only moisture we got was a mid-day 10-minute misting. The day was the right temperature with a slight breeze and it was overcast with no hot sun burning down on the participants.

Participants got a dash plaque and goody bag along with a coupon for door prizes. There was a silent auction of donated items and a 50/50. All proceeds go to the park which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit [the council also is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit]. There are classes for all vehicles with first and second place trophies. There is a Best of Show along with two special awards - Clay Drnec Award and Dinwiddie Chairman's Award. The Clay Drnec Award is in honor of the memory of Clay, a car hobbyist that both I and Colin Romanick, Park Executive Director, knew for years. Clay worked as a volunteer at the first show despite his health challenges. The Dinwiddie Chairman's Award is presented by a member of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors. The Board and the Chamber of Commerce have been very supportive of the show.

Thanks go to Strosnider Chevrolet (display of 4 new vehicles), Sinclair Communications display, NSRA Inspections by Rusty Holcomb, Bishop's BBQ, Pop's Kettle Corn, J's Catering, Jax Wax, Veronica's Gemtorium, The Scented Swine, Jessica Andre Agency Farmer's Insurance and special thanks to Danny and Debbie Herald for the music. Also thanks to Ron Clark, council VP, for getting volunteers to help with parking and Herbert Hudson for helping with parking - both were members of the show committee that put this show together.

This show had a variety of interesting vehicles. You can see them at 4th_Annual_Breakthrough_Car_Show. Pictures of the Best in Show and special awards are below. We are looking forward to the 5th annual show next year and hopefully a better weather forecast.

If you pre-registered for the show and did not attend contact Colin or myself for your dash plaque. Colin aromanick@pamplinpark.org or Fred contact@carclubcouncil.com.

Clay Drnec Award
Clay Drnec Award for Preservation was given by Clay's son AJ (far right)
to this 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV owned by Jesse and Tera Lamb and their son

Dinwiddie Chairman's Award
Dinwiddie Chairman's Award was given to the 2005 Chevrolet SSR owned by Mel Ogburn.
Mel had an impressive display of his vehicle.

Best of Show
Best of Show was given to the 1936 Chevrolet PU owned by David Fuller.
It was voted as the best in show by the participants.

Are EV Sales Declining? Electrifying The Car Market May Be Getting Harder. Here's Why

From USA Today.
Electrifying the car market may be getting more difficult, with the share of Americans who say they’re “very unlikely” to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase growing in each of the first three months of the year, according to a new report.

In March, 21% of new-vehicle shoppers said they were “very unlikely” to consider an EV, up from 18.9% in February and 17.8% in January, consumer analytics firm JD Power said in a monthly EV report. In contrast, the percentage of car shoppers who say they are “very likely” to consider an EV was 26.9% in March, largely flat this year. Persistent worries about charging infrastructure and vehicle pricing’s dampening enthusiasm, the report said. EV’s market share of all new-vehicle sales dropped to 7.3% in March, down from a record high of 8.5% in February but up from 2.6% in February 2020.

“Many new vehicle shoppers are becoming more adamant about their decision to not consider an EV for their next purchase,” JD Power said.

Why aren’t people more interested in EVs?
The lack of public charging infrastructure and price have consistently topped the reasons for the past 10 months, JD Power said.

Other reasons people cited for not wanting to buy an EV: range anxiety; time required to charge; power outage and grid concerns; lack of servicers for repairs and maintenance; and inadequate performance in extreme temperatures.

Even high-profile initiatives like “Walmart’s plan to dramatically expand its charging network and Tesla’s announcement it would open some of its supercharger network to non-Tesla vehicles have apparently had little effect on these consumer concerns, at least so far,” JD Power said.

Are EV prices dropping, though?
The high price tag for an EV compared with its fuel-powered counterpart remains a deterrent.

Government subsidies for EVs initially boosted demand, but the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department’s new guidance in mid-April on specific vehicle requirements that need to be met before EVs can be eligible for these tax credits sowed confusion and will likely raise the price again for EVs, generally.

New guidance included the location where the vehicle was assembled and details on the sourcing of critical minerals in the vehicle batteries. Batteries and components must originate in the U.S. or come from countries with which there is a free trade agreement for the vehicle to qualify.

“This new hurdle will affect the affordability of several EV models, while also likely introducing more confusion among buyers,” JD Power said. “Our data suggest that higher prices will negatively affect EV sales “

Shouldn’t people want to buy an EV to help the environment?
While about 4 in 10 U.S. adults think using EVs helps address climate change “a great deal” (12%) or “a fair amount” (27%), roughly 6 in 10 believe it helps “only a little” (35%) or “not at all” (26%), according to a Gallup poll fielded March 1-23.

Although 43% of U.S. adults said they might consider buying an EV in the future, 41% unequivocally say they would not, Gallup said.

Only about 4% of Americans currently own an EV, Gallup said, and 12% are seriously considering purchasing one.

Who’s least likely to want an EV?
Most people born before 1965, whom JD Power describes as Boomers and pre-Boomers, are least likely to consider an EV, but one-third of Gen Zers (born between 1995 and 2004) aren’t either. Gen Z is seen as “the future of the marketplace,” the analytics firm said.

“It is clear in the data that price and charging infrastructure are significant obstacles for a wide spectrum of potential customers,” it said.

Geography and education also may influence your decision. Americans living in the Western U.S. and college graduates are more likely than their counterparts to report that they currently own an electric vehicle, are seriously considering the purchase, or might in the future, Gallup said.


California Moves To Phase-out Diesel-powered Trucks, Cut Locomotive Pollution

From Reuters.
California regulators on Friday approved new rules requiring all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state in 2036 be zero-emission, a day after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted reduced emission regulations for locomotives.

"With these actions requiring all new heavy-duty truck sales to be zero emission and tackling train pollution in our state, we’re one step closer to achieving healthier neighborhoods and cleaner air for all Californians," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

The rule also require transitioning existing fleets to zero-emission vehicles. Big rigs, local delivery and government fleets must transition to zero emission by 2035, garbage trucks and local buses by 2039, and sleeper cab tractors and specialty vehicles by 2042.

The board estimates the reduced pollution from the truck rules would result in $26.6 billion in health savings from fewer asthma attacks, emergency room visits and respiratory illnesses, and save $48 billion in trucking operating costs.

American Trucking Associations Chief Executive Chris Spear criticized the decision to force motor carriers to purchase zero-emission vehicles.

"California is setting unrealistic targets and unachievable timelines that will undoubtedly lead to higher prices for the goods and services delivered to the state and fewer options for consumers," Spear said.

CARB said fleet owners can receive exemptions based on available technology to ensure they can replace older polluting trucks with ones that have the cleanest engines in the nation

While trucks represent only 6% of vehicles on California’s roads, they account for over 35% of the state’s transportation generated nitrogen oxide emissions and about 25% of on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

Paul Cort, director of Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign, said the "new truck rule will have profound health and economic benefits not just here, but in every other state that adopts these clean air protections."

On Thursday, CARB adopted new locomotive regulations requiring that by 2030 only those less than 23 years old could operate in the state.

Switch, industrial and passenger locomotives built starting in 2030 will be required to operate in zero-emissions configurations in California, and for freight line haul beginning in 2035.

"With the new regulation, we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions," CARB Chair Liane Randolph said.

CARB in August voted to require all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 to be either electric or plug-in electric hybrids. The Biden administration must still approve waivers for California to implement the new regulations.

Friendship Baptist Church Classic Car Show
Friendship Baptist Church Classic Car Show May 20 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

RFK Jr. Says Climate Change Being Exploited to Push ‘Totalitarian Controls’

From The Epoch Times
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said that climate-related issues are being “exploited” by wealthy individuals in a bid to enact “totalitarian controls” over society.

“Climate issues and pollution issues are being exploited by … mega billionaires” like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Kennedy told radio host Kim Iversen over the past weekend. “The same way that COVID was exploited to use it as an excuse to clamp down top-down totalitarian controls on society and then to give us engineering solutions.”

“And if you look closely, as it turns out, the guys who are promoting those engineering solutions are the people who own … the patents for those solutions,” Kennedy said during Iversen’s show. “It’s a way they’ve given climate chaos a bad name because people now see that it’s just another crisis that’s being used to strip mine the wealth of the poor and to enrich billionaires.”

“I, for 40 years, have had the same policy on climate and engineering,” said Kennedy, the scion of former Attorney General and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. “You can go check my speeches from the 1980s, and I’ve said the most important solution for environmental issues [is] not top-down controls, it’s free market capitalism.”

Kennedy—a longtime environmental activist and lawyer—wrote in a 2014 blog post for corporations and other groups that “sponsor climate lies” should face punishment. But he wrote that he “support[s] the First Amendment which makes room for any citizen to, even knowingly, spew far more vile lies without legal consequence” before adding at the time: “I do, however, believe that corporations which deliberately, purposefully, maliciously, and systematically sponsor climate lies should be given the death penalty,” Kennedy wrote for EcoWatch.

Kennedy’s comments about climate change years ago were highlighted by Fox News and other right-leaning publications after he declared his candidacy for president last month. Although he’s better known for his comments about childhood vaccines, Kennedy worked as an environmental lawyer for New York City and also for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Also in the Iversen interview, Kennedy suggested that other than Gates, the World Economic Forum is also exploiting climate-related policies to produce a totalitarian society. The Davos, Switzerland-based group hosts annual meetings each year that include world leaders and top business executives, while in January, speakers at the forum said that governments and businesses should pursue a “net-zero” policy around carbon emissions and that people don’t need cars.

“What we have in this country now is not free market capitalism—it’s corporate crony capitalism. It’s … a cushy kind of socialism for the rich and a brutal, barbaric, merciless capitalism for the poor,” Kennedy also stated in the interview.

Kennedy filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to launch his 2024 bid on April 5. He’s joining self-help writer Marianne Williamson as well as President Joe Biden, who announced his reelection bid last week via campaign video.

When he announced his 2024 candidacy, Kennedy said that he has a desire to work with “rural and working-class Americans, and particularly hunters and fishermen.” Those individuals, he said, have been “alienated from the mainstream environmental community.”

He’s also said that he’s running because he believes Democrats have gone astray, becoming the “party of war,” corporate interests, and “censorship.”

While Biden remains the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president, a Fox News poll recently showed Kennedy has around 20 percent support among Democrat voters. He also recently drew headlines after being interviewed by ABC News and accused the Disney-owned broadcaster of censoring his comments about vaccines.

“We should note that during our conversation, Kennedy made false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines,” ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis said last week after his presidential announcement. “We’ve used our editorial judgment in not including portions of that exchange in our interview.”

On social media, however, Kennedy accused the network of violating federal election laws by editing out his remarks about vaccines. “ABC showed its contempt for the law, democracy, and its audience by cutting most of the content of my interview with host Linsey Davis leaving only cherry-picked snippets and a defamatory disclaimer,” Kennedy said.

“I’m happy to supply citations to support every statement I made during that exchange. I’m certain that ABC’s decision to censor came as a shock to Linsey as well. Instead of journalism, the public saw a hatchet job,” he added.

The Briefs

Although he is no longer governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger still performs his civic duty -- in this case, filling a huge pothole in his Brentwood neighborhood with concrete. The Associated Press reported that on April 11, the Terminator himself, along with a helper, used a shovel and packaged concrete to fill a hole in the street. "Today, after the whole neighborhood has been upset about this giant pothole that's been screwing up cars and bicycles for weeks, I went out with my team and fixed it," he tweeted. "This is crazy. For three weeks I've been waiting for this hole to be closed." His good deed turned out to be an "oops" moment, though, according to the Associated Press. The "pothole" was actually a utility trench that had been temporarily filled by Southern California Gas Co. and was set to be fixed permanently later. SoCal Gas said rain had delayed the permanent paving. The Terminator tweeted, "Teamwork. Happy to help speed this up."

In Carmarthenshire, Wales, residents have responded to the condition of a rural road that they describe as the "worst in the county" with a clever road sign, Wales Online reported on April 27. "Caution: Remove dentures. Adjust bra straps. Secure your nuts," the sign reads. Abergorlech Road is full of potholes, and while some have been filled, residents believe "the road is so worn and damaged that it requires complete resurfacing in many places," a spokesman said. "Whilst the sign is intended to be funny, the constant wear and tear on our vehicles is a real issue." The Carmarthenshire Council contends that there is no money budgeted for resurfacing, but residents say it's "ironic that the police can check our vehicles to ensure that they're safe for the road, but no one is ensuring that the road is safe for our vehicles." Maybe it's time to call the Terminator.

Seems like it would go without saying, but you might want to assemble an item you just stole away from the store's parking lot. On April 3 in Flagler County, Florida, Patrick Vandermeyden-Miller allegedly walked out of a Target store with an electric scooter he had not paid for, WESH-TV reported. Deputies were called to the scene, where they found Vandermeyden-Miller near a cart rack, putting together the scooter. He also had drug paraphernalia in his pockets. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and petit theft.

Drivers along Interstate 5 near Eugene, Oregon, were startled on April 11 to see $100 bills floating through the air, Fox News reported. In fact, many cars stopped along the highway to grab the loot. When the Oregon State Police tracked down the source, it was Colin Davis McCarthy, who told them he'd been throwing the money out of his car to "bless others." He said he thought he'd dispersed around $200,000. The OSP later revealed that McCarthy's family had been in touch; he had depleted a shared family bank account for his Robin Hood moment.

Seventh-grader Dillon Reeves of Warren, Michigan, is being hailed as a hero after he came to the rescue of a wayward school bus on April 26, ABC News reported. Reeves noticed as he was riding the bus home from school that the driver was "in distress." Superintendent Robert D. Livernois said the student "stepped to the front of the bus and helped bring it to a stop without incident. I could not be prouder of his efforts." The bus driver had lost consciousness; emergency personnel tended to the driver, and students were delivered home on another bus.

A Swedish electric vehicle manufacturer hopes to become the IKEA of small EVs by shipping its cars as individual parts that can be assembled at their final destination (image below).

Luvly, a Swedish start-up specializing in small and affordable electric vehicles, has announced plans to ship its tiny cars as flat packs to be assembled at their final destination. The company claims that this unusual model will allow it to fit 20 of its cars into a container that would otherwise only have room for 4 assembled vehicles, thus lowering transportation costs considerably. However, the Swedish manufacturer clarified that, unlike IKEA furniture, its electric vehicles are not meant for home assembly. Instead, the flat packs will end up at micro-factories where they will be quickly put together by specialized staff to ensure complete safety.

Joasia Zakrzewski, an accomplished ultramarathon runner from Australia, was stripped of her bronze medal and trophy won in a recent 50-mile race after organizers learned that she had used a car for a portion of the course. 47-year-old Joasia Zakrzewski finished third in the 2023 GB Ultras 50-mile (80km) race from Manchester to Liverpool on April 7 and even posed with her medal and trophy after crossing the finish line despite knowing full well that she had broken the rules of the competition. After analyzing GPX data, race organizers concluded that Zakrzewski had reached a speed of 35mph (56km/h) during a short section of the race, which made her faster than Usain Bolt, the fastest human in history. Upon interrogating race staff, witnesses and the runner herself, Joasia Zakrzewski was disqualified and stripped of her medal for riding in a friend’s car during the race.

Malaysian social media has been abuzz with the story of a young well-off couple who recently bought a Mercedes SUV as a present for their 5-year-old daughter to motivate her to go to school. Earlier this month, Malaysian businesswoman Farhana Zahra posted a TikTok video asking her daughter, Fatima, what she wanted as a birthday present, to which the young girl answered that she wanted either a green Mercedes G Wagon or a BMW. In the same video, Farhana makes the girl promise that she will go to school if she gets what she wants and then they seal the deal with a pinky shake. Apparently, Farhana and her husband had been having problems convincing Fatima to go to school, because she hadn’t turned five yet, and they used this opportunity to persuade her. Just like our parents used to do back in the day.

Bees are considered an omen of good fortune in China, so when a man found a swarm of bees building their nest in his car, he decided to just drive the car with his new winged companions. A man from China’s Anhui province recently went viral after posting a series of videos of himself calmly driving in his car with bees swarming around inside the vehicle. Most people would freak out at the sight of a single bee flying around their head, but the Chinese driver, surnamed Yao, was all smiles and even boasted that he was ‘going to be rich,’ referring to the belief that bees visiting one’s home was an auspicious omen. It’s unclear how the bees got into the car or why they chose it as their place of congregation, but the viral videos gave many on social media goosebumps.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla recently unveiled an unexpected new product for its loyal client base – GigaBier, a special brew that comes in bottles inspired by its unreleased Cybertruck. GigaBier was originally revealed in October 2021, to celebrate the inauguration of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Berlin. That grand opening was delayed for over 260 days due to environmental activists and permit problems, and so was the new beer. Things slowly got back on track, and Musk’s popular automotive company recently made its special “cyberhops” beer available to the masses. The beers come in packs of three, bottled in glossy black bottles with sharp edges that emulate the sharp shapes of the Tesla Cybertruck. One pack of three 330ml bottles costs a whopping $98.

Customers using Wendy's drive-through service won't be talking to a human employee for much longer—from June, a chatbot is set to take over. As The Wall Street Journal(Opens in a new window) reports, Wendy's opted to use Google's natural language software to train an AI capable of taking food orders. Wendy’s chief executive Todd Penegor says the chatbot is so good, "you won’t know you’re talking to anybody but an employee." Wendy's had to work closely with Google to fine tune its large language model to cope with the vast array of ways in which customers order food at the drive-through. The customizations required include "unique terms, phrases and acronyms." That way, any combination of food items can be handled, but so can common terms such as "biggie bags" or someone asking for a "JBC." Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, admits a drive-through AI is actually "a very complicated technical problem." However, Wendy's chatbot is expected to be very accomplished and can even handle a customer changing their mind halfway through ordering. On top of that, it will promote the daily specials and attempts to upsell customers in a bid to increase the size/range of food items ordered. To begin with, the chatbot will be used at a company-owned restaurant in Columbus, Ohio starting in June. It's unclear if Wendy's will announce specifically when and where the chatbot starts work, but if it's as good as claimed, they probably won't to see if anyone notices.

In an effort to avoid arrest during a traffic stop over the weekend, a Colorado man behind the wheel swapped places with a dog in his passenger seat, police said. It did not work. Police in Springfield, a town of about 1,300 people in the southeastern part of the state, said an officer pulled the man over for speeding Saturday night and watched him maneuvering inside the car before eventually getting out on the passenger side. "The male party showed clear signs of intoxication," an officer with Springfield Police Department wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. Police said the man claimed he was not driving, and when asked about his alcohol consumption, he ran. The man made it 20 yards before he was taken into custody, according to police. Police said they also learned the man, a local resident, was driving from Las Animas to Pueblo and got lost in Springfield. The driver was taken to a hospital to be checked out, then arrested on suspicion of charges including speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol as well as on additional warrants. "The dog was given to an acquaintance of the driver to take care of while the party was in jail," police wrote in the post. "The dog does not face any charges and was let go with just a warning."

Two people were arrested in South Carolina and accused of trying to traffic illicit drugs under a false pregnancy belly, authorities said. Deputies spoke to Anthony Miller and Cemeka Mitchem last month during a traffic stop, where Mitchem appeared visibly pregnant, the Anderson County Sheriff's Department said Sunday on Facebook. Deputies observed Miller, who was driving, zigzagging through traffic on Interstate 85 and nearly colliding with an 18-wheeler, the sheriff's office said. Upon being separated and spoken to, the pair allegedly gave deputies conflicting information about Mitchem's due date. "As Mitchem realized deputies were becoming more suspicious of her conflicting story, Mitchem immediately took off running and very quickly drugs fell from the fake rubber stomach," the sheriff's department said. The arrest occurred in April, but the sheriff’s office didn't announce it until Mother’s Day. Deputies discovered more than 1,500 grams of cocaine during the stop, the sheriff's office said.

In a tweet, Ford CEO Jim Farley announced that the company will keep AM radio in all 2024 Ford and Lincoln models and restore it on two electric vehicles via a software update. Farley said the decision was made after speaking with “policy leaders” about the need for AM radio “as a part of the emergency alert system.” The company removed AM radio from the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning and planned to discontinue it on future products. “Customers can currently listen to AM radio content in a variety of ways in our vehicles—including via streaming—and we will continue to innovate to deliver even better in-vehicle entertainment and emergency notification options in the future,” he said. Farley’s move comes a week after a group of bipartisan federal legislators introduced a bill to bar carmakers from eliminating AM broadcast radio on new cars and light trucks, citing safety concerns. The bill would direct NHTSA to issue regulations to mandate AM radio in new vehicles without additional charge. U.S. Senator Edward Markey, one of the sponsors of the bill, on praised Ford’s reversal. “AM radio is more than just an essential safety feature—it’s a free, accessible source for anyone to listen to music, news, sports and entertainment.” —SCS

Repair Mistakes & Blunders

From Rock Auto
As a college student in the mid 1960s, I was pretty much always short of cash. I drove a 1959 Fiat 600 and could barely afford gas at 32 cents a gallon let alone a decent battery. I often struggled to get it started and often had to open the driver's door and push it, jump in and pop the clutch and hope it would start. The 600 in the name meant it had a 600cc engine, half the size of VW Beetle, so it was a very small car but still a chore to push start by yourself. So I was thrilled one morning to be able to convince some friends from the dorm into giving me a push. After at least four failed attempts they were getting a bit tired of the whole thing and ready to quit.

That is when I looked at the ignition key and realized I had not turned on the ignition. I turned the key, stuck my head out the window and sheepishly shouted “Give it just one more try...I have a feeling it’s going to start this time." Sure enough the engine burst to life with that final push, and I was able to motor away with a big smile. It has been over 50 years since that day, but I have not fessed up to my old friends yet ... and may never. Unless they read this of course.

Greg in Michigan

Chris Ellis Spring Cruise - Tribute to Jerry Baltes
Chris Ellis Spring Cruise - Tribute to Jerry Baltes May 20 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window
Photo by Ron Clark

Biden's EPA Proposes Crackdown On Power Plant Carbon Emissions

From Reuters
WASHINGTON, May 11 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled a sweeping plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. power industry, one of the biggest steps so far in its effort to decarbonize the economy to fight climate change.

The proposal would limit how much carbon dioxide power plants, which are the source of more than a quarter of U.S. emissions, can chuff into the atmosphere, putting the industry on a years-long course to install billions of dollars of new equipment or shut down.

Environmental groups and scientists have long argued that such steps are crucial to curb global warming, but fossil fuel-producing states argue that they represent government overreach and threaten to destabilize the electric grid.

The proposal sets standards that would push power companies to install carbon capture equipment (CCS) that can siphon the CO2 from a plant’s smokestack before it reaches the atmosphere, or use super-low-emissions hydrogen as a fuel.

The Environmental Protection Agency projects the plan would cut carbon emissions from coal plants and new gas plants by 617 million tonnes between 2028 and 2042, the equivalent of reducing the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles.

"Today we're proposing new technology standards that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, protecting health and protecting our planet," EPA Administrator Michael Regan told students at the University of Maryland on their last day of school on Thursday.

Regan said that the agency has wielded the power of the federal Clean Air Act to craft the new power plant rules, along with a suite of other measures aimed at tackling vehicle emissions, as well as potent greenhouse gases methane and HFCs, that would reduce the equivalent of 15 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between 2022 and 2055.

White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi told reporters the proposal will keep the U.S. on track to meet its goal to achieve net-zero power sector emissions by 2035.

"When you look at what is in the rule and what is proposed we are absolutely in line with the president's goal," he said.

The proposal, more than 18 months in the making, reflects constraints imposed on the EPA by the Supreme Court, which ruled last year that the agency cannot impose a system-wide shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, but can regulate plants by setting technology-based standards applied on-site.

An effort by the administration of Democratic former President Barack Obama in 2015 to broadly slash power industry emissions was hung up by legal challenges and eventually repealed in 2019 under the administration of Republican President Donald Trump. The Trump's own scaled down power plant rules were also scuppered by courts.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who led the legal challenge against the previous EPA carbon rule, said in a statement that the coal-producing state will "be ready once again to lead the charge in the fight against federal overreach" and said the proposal "just seems designed to scare more coal-fired power plants into retirement."

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on Wednesday threatened to block all EPA nominees because of the impact he said the rules will have on coal.

The proposal is subject to the regulatory rule-making process, including a public comment period. The final rule will have to reflect the public comments and will likely take about a year to be finalized.

The agency and research groups said the proposal reflects the current trends in the power sector, which has seen a decline in coal capacity from 321 gigawatts (GW) to 219 GW from 2005 to 2022, a surge in new renewable capacity and some utilities contemplating the use of CCS and hydrogen in their medium-term plans.

“This standard will further support a transition already underway that is being driven by the compelling economics of clean energy, ushering in a reliable, affordable renewable electricity system for all," said Mark Dyson, carbon free electricity director at RMI.

The EPA anticipates the proposal will cost the power industry over $10 billion, while yielding health and climate benefits of around $85 billion.

It said the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden's signature climate bill, will offer billions of dollars in tax incentives and credits that will bring down costs for deployment of CCS and green hydrogen, justifying its decision to base new standards on those technologies.

According to the proposal, new and existing large natural gas plants will be expected to install CCS that removes 90% of their carbon emissions by 2035, or alternatively to co-fire with 30% hydrogen by 2032 and 96% hydrogen by 2038.

New gas-fired "peaker plants," used as backup generation, would face less stringent standards.

For existing coal plants - whose numbers have been declining in recent years - the EPA will consider their planned lifespan.

Coal plants that run past 2040, for example, will be required to install CCS technology starting in 2030, while those shutting between 2035 and 2040 would be required to co-fire with 40% gas by 2030.

Regan said the EPA is planning to see some early retirements of older plants as a result of the proposals, but said the impact on electricity prices will be "negligible.”

Industry groups, however, questioned the costs.

America's Power, a group representing utilities that use coal, said the proposal "raises a number of critical legal questions, including whether EPA has the authority to force the use of technologies that are not economically or technically feasible for widespread use."

Environmental groups welcomed the proposal, saying it has been crafted carefully to weather legal fights.

“After two failed attempts to regulate the power sector’s tremendous carbon pollution load, EPA finally gets it just right with this proposal,” said Jay Duffy, litigation director for the Clean Air Task Force.

Rock The Lot 5 C3 Car Club RVA
Rock The Lot 5 "Salute The Troops" May 27 ~ see all the photos at Album - opens to a new window

Mechanic Son Fixes 102-Year-Old Dad’s ’46 Cadillac That Hadn’t Run in 50 Years for One Last Drive

From The Epoch Times
A mechanic’s son spent nine months refurbishing his father’s pride and joy, a 1946 Cadillac bought 50 years prior, so that the elderly veteran could drive the car one last time on his 102nd birthday.

Passionate about cars, the older man, Wilburn “Walt” West, was born on May 17, 1920, the eldest of 15 children. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade to earn money for his family before serving during World War II and later worked for 38 years as a forklift driver in a warehouse while raising his family in Pampa, Texas.

Walt purchased his ’46 Cadillac in 1974.

“When my dad grew up, no one had cars; they walked to school, they rode on horses,” Walt’s 73-year-old son Harry West, a retired biologist from Canyon, told The Epoch Times. “Grandpa finally got a Model T Ford. That’s probably the first thing my dad ever drove.”

In Walt’s day, a Cadillac was one of those things only rich people owned, Harry said. So in the 1970s, when he happened to spot one that someone had obviously taken decent care of sitting behind a building in the hot Texas sun, he had to investigate. It simply wasn’t right.

The ’46, which differs from other Cadillac models with its six-bar grille, showed just 37,000 miles on the odometer. The owner wanted his building cleared out, so Walt made an offer on the car. “Because of the way he was raised, if you got something that was decent, you took care of it and you went to great pains,” Harry said. “Dad bought the car for $50.”

“Tickled Pink”

Two years prior, in 1972, Walt had retired the Ford he bought brand-new in 1955. This car came to mind first when, at the age of 98, he broke his leg and needed surgery. The injury scared him and he asked his son, also mechanically gifted, “Do you think you could get my Ford out and make it run again? I want to hear it run before I die.”

Harry said, “I told him, ‘Dad, not only will I make it run, you’re going to drive it!’”

So, Harry retrieved the ’55 Ford from his father’s house in Pampa and, over three months, got the car up and running in time for Walt’s 99th birthday. At a huge family party, he was “tickled pink” to drive his faithful Ford for the first time in decades. When local TV covered the restoration, they asked the veteran what he wanted for his 100th birthday.

Walt wanted to drive his Cadillac, which hadn’t run in half a century.

Harry initially thought there was no chance the ’46 could be made roadworthy; his father had never succeeded in fixing it. Its engine was frozen and had water inside; the Cadillac needed a bumper-to-bumper overhaul. “The car had not moved under its own power for about 50 years when we got it out of hibernation,” Harry said. “It’d been inside ever since Dad had it, so it had deteriorated horribly.”

By Walt’s 100th birthday, the car was not ready. So his family entered his restored ’55 Ford into a major car show in Amarillo, Texas, instead with help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Notably, Walt was recognized by former President Donald Trump, while an American flag was flown in his honor, courtesy of Senator Ted Cruz, for this milestone birthday. Walt was over the moon.

The Restoration

Harry was raised with his father’s sense of care for vehicles, knowing that if something broke he wouldn’t get a new one. Harry started fixing things early in life, learning from local Pampa mechanics in exchange for odd jobs, and recalls one “stellar” mechanic, Don Cole, alongside whom he fixed his first ’41 Ford pickup.

With his own private shop today, Harry devoted nine months and around $1,500 to restoring his father’s ’46 Cadillac. He sourced parts from all over the United States and secured help from a trusted childhood schoolmate, Jerry Heasley, who documented the project.

As word spread of the restoration, offers of help poured in. Jerry, who has filmed several of Harry’s restoration success stories, published his footage on YouTube. The video featuring the ’46 Cadillac garnered over 2.4 million views to date while his footage of the ’55 Ford restoration got over 7 million.

On Aug. 6, 2022, a sunny Saturday in Texas, Harry’s immense hard work paid off when he was able to reveal his father’s precious Cadillac, restored and roadworthy again.

“We got Dad in his wheelchair, got him out on his front porch,” Harry said. “We had five generations of the family there that day. My great-grandson and I were in the car, and we came down the street in that old Cadillac.”

He pulled into the driveway and Walt’s mouth was open. “There’s that old ’46 Cadillac that he never thought he would ever see run again,” Harry said. “For a while, neither did I! But he was just so tickled, he was just elated.”

“Beyond Priceless”

After a gobsmacked Walt looked the car over and gushed about its smooth, quiet engine, it was time for his next surprise: a ride.

“He says, ‘Well, we better not go very far, we might have to walk back.’ ‘No, we’re not walking back, Dad!’” Harry said, recalling their conversation. “He was a little skeptical because he knew the condition of the car. … It just was an incredible day. I don’t know how to describe what it meant to that old man to be able to sit in that old car.”

After some convincing, he drove his treasured ’46 Cadillac himself, at 102 years old, even though it “kind of scared him because his legs were pretty weak.” To honor the veteran, a convoy from the local fire department added to the momentous day.

Two months later, Walt proudly entered his restored Cadillac in a local car show and on Veterans’ Day he got to spend time talking to younger generations about his experience during and after the war.

In the end, Walt got his wish before passing away at his home of 73 years on Feb. 9. Harry and his sister Linda were with him when he died in his sleep.

“Dad is and will always be missed by all that knew him,” Harry said, adding of their last big project, the ’46 Cadillac’s restoration: “Absolutely priceless … and now that Dad is gone, it’s beyond priceless.”

Rock The Lot 5 C3 Car Club RVA
Never know what you will see at a car show. Note what the owner has to say about Telsa in the lower right corner

Why Racetracks Are Giving Hybrids And EVs The Cold Shoulder

From Hagerty
This is a tale of two racetracks, and how they handle—or don’t handle—electric and hybrid vehicles.

First, Atlanta Motorsports Park, in Dawsonville, Georgia, which features a Herman Tilke-designed two-mile road course.

“Electric vehicles are the future of racing,” says Jeremy Porter, AMP owner and CEO. Not only are electrics and hybrids welcome at AMP, Porter has installed five new Autel MaxiCharger DC Fast Level 3 chargers for his customers to use. “From hyperexotics to luxury vehicles to EV retrofits, everybody who comes to AMP deserves speedy charging off-track so they can get back to shaving off their times on-track.

“Our long-term ambition is to be an incubator for using mobility technology. Currently we have three EV technology companies at Atlanta Motorsports Park, and installing Level 3 chargers crystallizes our commitment to this tech.”

About 477 miles northeast is Summit Point Motorsports Park, a two-mile, natural-terrain road course in West Virginia that opened in 1969. Summit Point’s director of motorsports operations, Edwin Pardue, has banned the use of electric vehicles and hybrids on track.

While he says Summit Point supports electric technology when it comes to racing, the track has taken a “‘tactical pause’ in halting the use of electric and hybrid electric vehicles in all motorsports disciplines at our location,” until it can establish an emergency response policy that makes sense for a small track in a rural area.

Pardue is not alone. Carolina Motorsports Park, in Kershaw, South Carolina, which has a 2.27-mile road course, abides by a simple rule on its books: “No electric vehicles allowed on track.” A relative handful of other circuits have followed suit.

Shortly after Pardue announced the electric ban, the National Council of Corvette Clubs announced its own ban affecting the new Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray, which uses electric hybrid technology to power the car’s front wheels, while a conventional V-8 sends power to the rear. The E-Ray isn’t on sale yet, but Bill Docherty, the Council’s vice-president of competition, said they wanted the rule in place “before the E-Ray was available, so members do not expect to compete if they buy one.”

The NCCC went even further than Summit Point, stating that if you bring your E-Ray to a motorsports event, you’ll be required to park “30 feet minimum from buildings and other cars.” Over the weekend, apparently, the NCCC board reversed course and now the E-Ray (and other hybrids) will be allowed full participation. But the original ban—which still applies to pure EVs—got a lot of publicity and started a conversation regarding what the policy toward electrics should be.

Most electrics are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which consist of small battery packs nestled closely together. The number depends on the design and size of the battery; some Teslas have almost 8000 cells, while GM’s Chevrolet Bolt has 288 larger ones.

Battery fires are rare yet often make for big news when they happen. The fires burn bright and hot, as the batteries can suffer from “thermal runaway,” a phenomenon by which one small battery pack overheats or ignites, which overheats the battery pack next to it, and the one next to that one.

Regular fire extinguishers don’t work in these cases. Most fire departments use one of two methods to deal with a battery fire: Douse it with water to cool it down—generally a lot of water, between 3000 and 30,000 gallons, depending on the incident. “Cooling takes 100 times more water than a gasoline fire,” the NCCC’s Docherty said.

The other method is to just let the fire exhaust itself, a guard against re-ignition once the battery stops burning. One method to prevent re-ignition, more frequently used in Europe, is to pick the smoldering car up with a forklift and dunk it in the water.

One of the highest-profile battery-defect cases in the U.S. right now concerns the Ford F-150 Lightning; production was halted until the company and its battery supplier addressed a fire that began in one new, parked Lightning, and expanded to two others. Another concerns the Chevrolet Bolt, which was recalled after 18 examples caught on fire.

The Lightning and the Bolt are not the only vehicles to suffer recalls related to battery fires. Automakers that issued fire-related recalls include BMW, Chrysler, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Tesla. Other industries have had recalls of lithium-ion-powered products as well, including computers and electric scooters.

The recalls are largely addressing thermal runaway issues, which often occur when the vehicle is stationary and charging. It doesn’t address fires caused by a damaged battery, either from a collision or running over a serious piece of debris. Automakers surround the battery with high-strength containers to protect it, but in some sort of devastating crash—the kind you might witness on a racetrack—the battery may still be vulnerable. Gasoline cars are vulnerable to these same risks, but extinguishing them is more straightforward.

Summit Point and the 19,000-member National Council of Corvette Clubs are concerned about both thermal runaway and damaged battery fire scenarios. Not only because of the possible injury to drivers, spectators, or corner workers, but to property. A serious battery fire on a racetrack can damage the surface to the point where repaving might be required, thus shutting down the track until repairs are made.

Are Summit Point and Carolina Motorsports Park outliers? Probably not. “It’s too early to call anyone an outlier,” says Heyward Wagner, director of experiential programs for the 51,000-member Sports Car Club of America. He is in charge of the SCCA’s “Track Night in America,” the program for which the club rents out a facility and lets enthusiasts drive their cars on track, typically for about $150. Wagner has Track Nights at about 30 tracks in the U.S., and so far, three tracks have told him they don’t want battery-powered cars.

Owners of cars like the Ford Mustang Mach-E or the track-ready, 1020-horsepower Tesla Plaid can’t participate. Under such restrictions, neither could supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder or McLaren Artura. “Everybody is learning right now,” Wagner says. “We do have tracks that have told us that electrified vehicles are not welcome, and a track where they asked owners of electrified vehicles to sign a unique waiver.”

It’s a problem, Wagner says. “What is known is that an electrified vehicle fire is a different animal than an internal combustion engine fire. Nobody debates that. It requires different equipment, it requires different training, and that represents an investment for a track to make to be future-forward.

“It’s also an investment that municipalities have to make just to deal with what vehicles are on the road, and will be on the road in the future. The good news is that the technology that needs to be developed is being developed at a societal level. This is not just a challenge for motorsports.”

It’s not surprising, he says, “that different tracks take different approaches. We have 130, 140 years of data on ICE engines and fires. And maybe 10 years of useful data on electrified vehicles.

“One of the most important things for enthusiasts to keep in mind here is that the inclusion of electrified vehicles is very important to the sport’s future. I think electrified vehicles are engaging an entirely different mindset and demographic of enthusiast. There’s a tech angle that draws people in that an ICE vehicle probably wouldn’t. There’s also a reality that for this sport to be ready for the future, we need to be able to get out of the line of fire, no pun intended, on questions regarding environmental impact.

“Noise [for example]: There are so many things tied to that sound that so many of us love, that are potentially detrimental to our sport. Autocross in particular … the ability to acquire and retain sites just because it’s quieter will be significantly impacted in a positive way. And some tracks, like NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, have had to go to great lengths to continue their business with the neighborhood’s sound regulations.”

Electrified vehicles present an opportunity “to be better citizens and better neighbors with that technology,” Wagner says. “It won’t be a flip of the switch from ICE to EV, but it’s technology that could make our space significantly more accessible and bring a lot more people to the sport. It’s really important for us as an industry to figure out how to solve this.”

The good news: Both motorsports and the public-private sectors are working on the issue, says Eric Huhn, facility and laboratory safety engineer at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Huhn has also been a volunteer firefighter since 2015, and he’s well-versed on battery fires. Last month, he taught a Racing Goes Safer seminar on the topic at the Long Beach Grand Prix.

“I’m hearing more and more about tracks that won’t permit EVs and hybrids, and I’m not surprised that tracks are taking this stance,” Huhn says. “Out on the streets, the fire service is getting more and more experience with battery fires. And that experience is telling the fire service that these fires don’t behave like the fires we’re used to.

“The chemical reaction happening in a lithium-ion battery fire is completely different from how oil fires, or fires involving composites, work. That being said, you’re many times more likely to have a fire in an internal combustion vehicle because of all the flammable liquids. But those fires are easier to manage.”

If a track doesn’t have near-immediate access to city or county fire services, asking a facility to have a 3000-gallon pumper tanker in the fleet is unreasonable. There are some new technologies that have shown promise; both the Rosenbauer Battery Extinguishing Technology (BEST) and the ColdCut Cobra involve piercing the battery box from the bottom and injecting water into it to cool the cells. The BEST system is remote, with the operator 25 feet away, while the ColdCut system requires a properly outfitted firefighter to get a little closer. It uses a thermal-imaging camera to show where the hot spots are in the battery, and the ColdCut operator proceeds from there.

Both systems require far less water than simply dousing the car and the battery with thousands of gallons. The ColdCut Cobra can be mounted on a small, specially-designed fire truck that does nothing but fight battery fires. That may be accessible for a racetrack, once track-related interest is great enough among electric car owners to justify the expense.

But for now, expect more tracks to ban or limit the use of electric and hybrid cars. “I really can’t blame them,” says the SCCA’s Wagner.

Below is an interesting comment:
Well there is more to this than just fires. To be fires are no more common but yes they need to be prepared to deal with them in special training to deal with it. Most small tracks use volunteer fire and safety so most may not have the latest EV training.

But the big elephant in the room is shorts. Cars can be in a crash and no fire but the body of the car could be shorted and electrified. Safety crews needs to be trained in how to deal with and shut down these power systems no more different than shutting down a run away engine after a crash.

They also need to be able to know if the car is safe to touch. Unlike a shut off switch these cars could short to the body and make them unsafe to touch.

Friends with NHRA in a pro class told me about their runs in the EV Mustang Ford was showing. It has a light on the body that tells the crews it is not safe to touch. The light detects any short to the body of the car.

These challenges are just things that need to be learned before things get too far along. Safety needs to come first and training and investment in some new safety items will fix this.

You will need special gloves just to disconnect an EV battery - in fact two sets of gloves are required.

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