Monday, June 18, 2012

Hybrid Car Wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans

I've always been fascinated with the 24 hour car race, Le Mans.  it is an endurance race that can only be won with a combination of speed, reliability and consistency.  When I was a kid, I used to love a rather silly Avalon Hill board game of Le Mans.  You would pick a car and roll the dice to move around the board based on the characteristics of the car you chose.  I know the rest of my family would sometimes complain that the game was dragging on, much like its namesake, but I always liked it.  Then there was the movie Le Mans staring Steve McQueen.  It was pretty intense as a movie for a youngster such as I was at the time, so I'm sure it left and impression as well.
I don't know if it was these experiences or just the excitement of a car race that goes on for 24 hours, but somehow Le Mans has always been interesting to me.  This year was the 80th running of Le Mans and unusually interesting because Audi hybrid vehicles finished first and second.  That is right, they were hybrids.  They aren't like you average Prius or anything, instead, they have a large diesel engine as the main source of power to the rear wheels, and a fly wheel which feeds a supplemental electric motor in the front.  This means that when they brake, the energy goes into the flywheel and when needed, this flywheel drives an electric motor that provides extra power to the front wheels.
Toyota also had a hybrid in the race that was very competitive until it was involved in a rather horrific crash.  Thankfully, the drivers were OK.
Rumor has it that both Audio and Porche are working on flywheel hybrid vehicles for consumers.

More info on
24 hours of Le Mans
Audi at Le Mans
Truth in 24 free movie about Le Mans

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