NASCAR’s First Hydrogen-Powered Pace Car

Eat my water vapor. That was the Toyota Mirai’s message to the world this past weekend. The 2016 Toyota Mirai made history by becoming NASCAR’s first hydrogen-powered pace car to hit the track at the Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond. After receiving NASCAR approval, the Mirai quietly lead the way emitting nothing but water vapor on the bunch of rumbling racecars following behind.

“Having a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle pace the Toyota Owners 400 is a historic moment for both Toyota and NASCAR and we’re proud it’s the Toyota Mirai. Bringing the Mirai to Richmond to pace this important race is another way for Toyota to showcase our innovation and environmental leadership,” said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience of U.S. Toyota Motor Sales.

NASCAR’s CEO Brent Dewar says debuting the car at Richmond makes sense, as it ties in with NASCAR’s Race To Green platform.

“It’s a future technology that’s arriving today after 20 years of development. It’s exciting. And the fact that Toyota, our great partner for the last 10 years, would select the NASCAR platform and a race to showcase that, we couldn’t be more delighted,” Brent Dewar, Chief Operating Officer for NASCAR, said in a statement.

Despite bringing a fuel cell to the track for the first time, Dewar said there were no plans to compete with hydrogen fuel cells in NASCAR. Since 2011, NASCAR’s race cars have been fueled with Sunoco Green E15, a race fuel blended with 15 percent American ethanol.

“There are a number of fronts that we’re trying to make sure that we’re communicating and building on, and sustainability and green is a hallmark of our NASCAR brand now,” Dewar said.

Toyota has successfully used NASCAR in the past to promote alternative fuel vehicles when in 2009, the Toyota Camry Hybrid was the first hybrid to pace a full NASCAR race in the Coca Cola 600. The Mirai is also following in the eco footsteps of its Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept that acted as the pace car in the Shinshiro Rally in Japan at the end of last year.

The Mirai will also be setting a new pace for alternative fuel vehicles as the first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle in the world. It’s already on sale in Japan and will go on sale in California later this year. It gets its power from a fuel cell that uses hydrogen mixed with oxygen from the air to generate electricity. It takes 5 minutes to fuel up and then its good to go for 300 miles.

Photo Credit: Toyota
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