UW-Madison: Snowmobiling Team Hopes Cleaner Sled Cleans Up the Competition

 CONTACT: Glenn Bower, (608) 263-7252, [email protected]  

MADISON – In a state with 200,000 registered snowmobiles and 25,000 miles of
snowmobiling trails, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,
snowmobiling is more that just a sport. It is a big part of the Wisconsin winter.

Keeping snowmobiles performing at their optimal level by reducing fuel and sound
emissions is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison snowmobiling team’s winter.

After almost a year of planning, building and perfecting its snowmobile, the
UW-Madison snowmobile team will be competing in the Society of Automotive Engineers
(SAE) Clean Snowmobile Challenge on March 13-18 in Houghton, Mich. The competition
will feature 16 teams from across the U.S. and will test the teams’ snowmobiles in
events ranging from noise and fuel economy to endurance, acceleration and design.

According to the team’s advisor, Glen Bower, a faculty associate in the College of
Engineering, the UW-Madison team has made several improvements to its sled this year
including a new, more powerful engine.  Bower says this year’s machine is a “cleaner
and quieter sled.”

To meet the competition’s emission standards, which are set at the federal
government’s 2012 level, the team is using E-10 fuel. E-10 is a combination of 10
percent ethanol, a corn based fuel, and 90 percent gasoline. The combination fuel
burns cleaner than regular gasoline and is a partially renewable energy source.

The team’s student leader, Gary Diehl, says cleaning up snowmobiles’ emissions is
important because these “improvements lessen the impact of the environment, which
could lead to extinction of the sport.”

In addition to exhaust, Bower also stresses the importance of lowering sound
emissions. Noisy sleds often lead to banning snowmobiles in many areas such as state
parks, something this team is concerned about.

“If snowmobiles were not continuously improved a certain amount, they would be
banned from many areas,” Diehl says. “The main goal here is to be able to keep this
sport an option in all places, by means of making a snowmobile clean and quiet
without sacrificing the performance that the typical snowmobile enthusiast insists

Last year, the team finished third place overall with a first place finish in
emissions. With the improvements they made this year, the team is confident that
they can bring home a first place overall finish.

Although the 12 members of the team vary in age and experience ranging from freshmen
to graduate students, most members of the team are snowmobile enthusiasts and just
want to help improve the sport and keep it alive for the next generation.

“I, personally, participate because I have been a life-long snowmobile enthusiast
and I would like to continue to be one,” Diehl says. “I want to be involved in
everything I can to keep the sport available.”
– Niki Fritz (608) 262-2650; [email protected]