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A Man From Alabama Chops Wood To Escape From Berkeley

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This past Saturday was the beginning of the "Escape from Berkeley" road race from Berkeley, California to Las Vegas. What made the race so different is that the contestants - five of them, including a man from Alabama - attempted to make the 600 miles on one gallon of any non-petroleum fuel plus whatever else they could beg, borrow, take, or generate themselves along the way.

This is an excerpt from the NY Times article:

Not all of the racers are Bay Area cognoscenti. Wayne Keith, 59, is a cattleman from Springville, Ala., who decided five years ago that he wanted to be independent from gas.

“When gasoline hit $1.75, I bailed out,” Mr. Keith said. “I’m a hostage to no one.”

His adapted lime-green Dodge Dakota pickup burns wood in a pair of burners in the pickup bed and uses the gases created by the combustion — primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide — to drive the engine. He said the ready availability of scrap wood on his farm made his energy expenses almost nil.

On Saturday, Mr. Keith’s truck was also towing a table saw, in case he happened on any particularly large branches. “I don’t know if it makes me good or guilty,” he said. “But the wood’s going to rot if I don’t use it.”

Mr. Keith said the truck’s top speed is about 90 miles per hour, making it a favorite to win the race.

A picture of Mr. Keith's truck is here.

Guess what? He came in second! At the EfB blog, they posted:
"they competed fiercely for the Grand prize, but the re-route on the second day, a trailer wheel blowout, and fuel issues put them behind, but they just might come back next year, and I put them as a favorite to win."

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