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Greenspeed Breaks Land Speed Record For Vegetable Oil-Fueled Vehicles

By:    Published 11:57 am / November 14, 2011

Members of Boise State’s intrepid student club Greenspeed are now the proud builders of the world’s fastest vehicle that runs on vegetable oil.

The Greenspeed team made two record-breaking runs over the weekend. On Saturday, they shattered the existing 109 mph record for vegetable oil-fueled vehicles with a run of 139 mph. Then, on Sunday, the team broke their own record with a run of 155 mph. Dave Schenker, leader and founder of the club, was behind the wheel of the souped-up 1998 S-10 pickup for both runs at the Southern California Timing Association event on a dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert called El Mirage.

The club, made up of undergraduates from Boise State’s College of Engineering, includes Jenny Kniss, Ken Fukumoto, Adrian Rothenbuhler, Patrick Johnston and Seth Fueurborn.

“Nobody has pushed a vegetable oil vehicle like we have,” Schenker said. “It was an experiment. A very successful experiment.”

So successful, in fact, that the SCTA is considering the creation a new vegetable oil category for their events.

“We are pioneering an entirely new category of motorsports,” Schenker said.

The team’s path to the record has been a long one. Months of fundraising, scrimping and piecing together a truck valued at $125,000 gave them their first shot at the record in September on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats, but the team ran out of time to put the truck through the paces while running on vegetable oil. However, two runs burning diesel fuel proved that the truck was capable of running the speeds needed to break the record. A second attempt on “the Salt” a few weeks later ended as soon as it began with a busted engine on their first run.

“They set a goal that they knew would be hard to achieve and they stayed with it,” said John Gardner, a Boise State professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, director of the CAES Energy Efficiency Research Institute, and the group’s faculty advisor. “It’s really a testament to their perseverance and their engineering skill. I’m really pleased to see them have such success.”

Greenspeed’s next goal? Proving that vegetable oil is a viable source of energy and works as well as fossil fuels by overtaking the existing 215 mph record for petroleum-fueled trucks in their division. Their first attempt will come next summer back at Bonneville. Schenker, a junior, feels good about their chances

“We’ve learned a lot and are pretty confident we can pull it off,” he said. “The hard part was getting a vehicle running. Now it’s all about refinement.”

For more information about Greenspeed, visit