Sarah Young
Sarah Young Editorial/Art Assistant
8/18/14 11:01 a.m.

Professional racer Randy Pobst is a nice guy and all, but you don’t have to be Al Gore to see that he’s left a pretty big carbon footprint on the planet. Just check out his credentials: 30 years of competition, two victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and 70-plus professional wins plus seven pro titles. On average he runs more than 30 pro races per year to the tune of several thousand track miles.

However, Randy is doing something to atone for his sins: His daily driver is powered by vegetable oil, not dead dinosaurs. Yes, Randy Pobst drives a grease car.

Randy has long been associated with Volkswagens. When he started road racing professionally back in 1985, it was with a VW Golf. More recently, he signed on as the lead driver for the APR Motorsport Koni Challenge endurance team. Their stable features a small fleet of turbocharged VW GTIs. (His other regular ride also comes from Germany, as Randy drives the K-PAX Porsche 911 in SCCA Speed World Challenge competition; together they’re the reigning series champs.)

For the last few years, Randy has traveled about the land in a 2002 VW Jetta TDI. It might not be as sexy as his race cars, but it’s actually a speedy, high-powered materialization of his Earth-friendly beliefs. These views might be at odds with his career, but don’t call it hypocrisy.

Randy is just trying to balance his values with a lifelong passion. As he says, “Use less gas—save it for racing.” And if you doubt that green machines can hit apexes with the best of the gas-guzzlers, Randy’s Jetta will change your mind.

“I’m environmentally conscious,” Randy explains. “I try not to waste any natural resources. Even though I race cars, I can at least not use any more fuel than I have to.”

The “Powered by Vegetable Oil” sticker displayed on his rear window is about as loudly as Randy shouts about his environmental concerns. With his racing fame, he hopes to set an example of how small contributions can benefit the Earth. (Randy’s vegetarianism is also partially motivated by environmental issues.)

He’s not afraid to take a solid stance for resource conservation and reducing dependence on foreign oil, either. “We’re learning the same lessons they’ve learned in Europe. Smaller cars, smaller houses—smaller meals!” he says.

His inspiration for this project came along with a bit of betrayal, but hey, it’s all in the name of Mother Earth. “Even though I had a contract driving for Mazda [at the time], I read an article about a conversion you can do on a diesel car. I thought that sounded really cool. Unfortunately, Mazda didn’t make any diesel cars. The only logical choice really was the VW.”

So, what does a grease car do for the environment? For one, it drastically reduces the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere. Another pro-veggie argument goes a little something like this: The carbon in petroleum-based fuel is safely sequestered underground until it’s burned, releasing harmful carbon into the atmosphere. Vegetable oil comes from plants, which convert carbon dioxide to friendly, life-giving oxygen. Therefore, on the whole, plant-based fuel is a cleaner source.

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TiggerWelder New Reader
8/25/14 3:13 p.m.

While I applaud Randy for his stand, a gentleman in Charlotte was fined heavily for doing this exact thing. That tote of canola oil at costco is not tax paid fuel. Using it was at that time considered a major no-no. There was an effort to change that, but I don't know where it went.
How much diesel did it take to grow and process the oil bearing veggie? Is it really a net plus? Many cooking oil suppliers are now requiring their customers to return the oil, as they sell it to commercial biodiesel producers to meet the Al Gore inspired minimums of "renewable" resources.
I would love to see more about the total footprint than just the local ones. They call plug in hybrids or totally electric cars zero emmisions. No they aren't! There is a smoke stack at the power plant that is your emmisions, and no tree hugger wants to admit to supporting a nuke station for their car motivation. I like it, and want to see more of this, but let's get the whole picture, not just the pretty parts!

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