Global warming. Climate change. The greatest threat to continued human survival. The rhetoric these days can be awfully scary regarding new energy and oil. Sometimes it feels like we’ve all been doomed already by a hyper-active media always looking for the “next big story” to terrify us with. But I don’t really take anything seriously, so I am always on the lookout for a fun twist on a real problem.

What could be fun about climate change, you ask? Well, besides the fact that my home might end up as beach front property one day if we don’t mend our sins, how about a race? One that challenges contestants to go 100 miles on a single gallon of gas? That is the goal of the One-Gallon Challenge, where six contestants and their very different vehicles have to make the journey from Greenfield, MA to Boston in three hours using as little fuel as possible.

The contest limits travel time to just 3 hours to encourage normal driving habits. Also, if you haven’t been to Boston, it isn’t exactly the most fuel-friendly city. Stop. Go. Stop. Go the wrong way down a one-way street. Turn around. Stop. Get yelled at by Patriots fans for having a Giants sticker. Drive away fast, fearing for life. This writer is not a fan of Boston.

But it should be an excellent testing ground for the six competing vehicles, who will be meeting at Boston City Hall Plaza to show off for Greenfest 2009. Among the competitors is a bio-mass powered truck (my personal favorite!), two diesel-powered three wheelers, an electric-converted Porsche, and the…Moonbeam (pictured above). This homemade, $2000 motorcycle-powered “micro-car” weighs 400lbs and returns up to 105 MPG. Moonbeam-builder Jory Squibb is also running the One-Gallon Challenge, hoping to spread awareness of alternative-fuel vehicles.

This isn’t the first race to challenge users to use as little fuel as possible; even the boys at Top Gear have tried to go over a 1,000 miles on a single tank of gas. But driving 100 miles on just a gallon of gas on freeways inhabited by some of the worst drivers in the country is going to be quite a challenge.

Since the vehicle entrants are so varied, and at least two of them don’t even run on gas (the bio-mass truck and electric Porsche) the calculations for how much energy used could be tricky. But whatever. This is a very cool race with some very cool entrants, and even better, its only about an hour drive for me! I’ll be there, camera in one hand, pencil and pad in the other.

Source: One-Gallon Challenge