A while back my good friend and mentor Dean Case told me about an organization that was planning to hold a “Green Rally” right here in my home town of Long Beach. After doing some digging I learned that the basis of the “Go Green Auto Rally” was to embark on rally stage set by the event officials through town and the goal was to try and be as fuel efficient as possible. Even though I am a performance car enthusiast I am just as intrigued with fuel efficient cars as well and every year they get better. I knew right away I wanted to be a part of the rally but I knew that my heavy ’97 BMW 528i would probably put me at a disadvantage…
Luckily the same person who informed me of the rally just happens to work for Mazda USA and was able to put me in a brand new Mazda2 to take on the rally challenge. However I was informed that I wouldn’t be the only Mazda2 at the rally. The other car went to Dustin Kang, an engineering student and experienced Formula SAE competitor from Cal-State Northridge. This meant that in addition to trying to save the planet, academic bragging rights were on the line! As soon as I picked up my crystal white pearl Mazda2 I slapped on some stickers from my current stomping ground Cal-State Dominguez Hills (Go Toros!)
When I reached the start of the stage and got all settled in one of the main organizers Tim Mayer turned to me and said “I have a proposition for you.” Tim’s proposal was that I do the rally stage twice. The first time I would drive the way I normally drive everyday then I would come back, get coached on green driving techniques by professional drivers from Fast Lane Driving School, drive the rally stage again using the techniques I would learn, and then compare the results.
I figured that was the best way to see if I was really doing this right so I agreed and went back down to the car to get ready to go. During the last minute preparations they had me check my tire tread and tire pressure while rally stewards installed an iPhone 4 with a suction cup mount on the inside of the car. The iPhone had an app installed called “EcoGyzer”. After entering in a few data parameters about your car the app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer and GPS to measure the efficiency of your driving. It then uploads the data to the EcoGyzer server and you get a print out with your score.
After I completed my first run I went to registration to await my results (and was treated to a free lunch) and to my surprise and everyone else’s I actually scored a 995! Although when reading the detailed telemetry I could see that despite my high score my braking could use work. I was being too harsh on them and it was hurting my efficiency. Luckily the Fast Lane Driving School instructors gave me an in depth lesson on engine braking that is safe to do on the street.
With my new knowledge I set out for my second run and despite a few mishaps I was starting to get the hang the techniques I was taught. When I got back to the rally starting stage I had a good feeling about my run and went to the office to await my results. When Tim pulled up my score he looked bewildered, at that moment I figured I must have epically failed but Tim proceeded to tell me that I repeated my 995 score! Something that apparently he has never seen before in his experience with the EcoGyzer app. However, despite having the same score the telemetry did show that my braking did improve a lot.
He also told me that my 995 score also had me in first place! I wanted to get excited but Dustin didn’t return from his second run yet so the tension was high. When he got back we anxiously awaited the results. Again Tim immediately got a excited look on his face and then stood us up to announce that the difference between my score and Dustin’s was only a 10th but my score was the higher one! I had won the first Go Green Auto Rally and even better was the fact that Dustin and I had completed a Mazda 1-2 finish!
For my victory I got a $500 gas card while Dustin scored a $300 gas card. Victory aside I had a blast at the Go Green Auto Rally and I would recommend taking part in it if you will be in the Long Beach, CA area next April. The stakes will be bigger next time as the first place driver will win a car!
Thanks again to the Go Green Auto Rally and Mazda USA for an awesome weekend!