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October 19th, 2005 Emily Cooper | News Stories
 

Not Your father's Auto Show

Portland welcomes its first bio-fuels car show.

     
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Brian Jamison offers some not-exactly-disinterested advice for everyone still running around in gasoline-burning vehicles: Sell your car.

But Jamison, president of Portland's Go Biodiesel Cooperative, can offer some legitimate financial reasons to bolster his advice: high gasoline prices and better mileage offered by diesel-burning engines.

Jamison will deliver his message about biodiesel before an expected audience of 1,000 people at the Northwest Bio-Fuels Car Show and Conference (www.energyelement.com) at the Portland Expo Center on Sunday, Oct. 23.

Spurred on by high gas prices, climate change and increasing outcry by war opponents against conflicts fought over (dare we say it?) oil, organizers and presenters say the event couldn't come at a better time.

A biofuels car show outside will feature vehicles that run on biodiesel—a diesel fuel processed from vegetable oil—as well as ethanol, wood and straight veggie oil.

Biofuels are still too expensive for powering farm equipment, says Katie Fast of the Oregon Farm Bureau, but they could be a new source of income for farmers. Some are thinking about growing new crops like canola, which can be made into biodiesel. Wheat and grass-seed farmers can process left-over straw into ethanol.

Ryan Justice, a 20-year-old race-car driver born in Canby, will sign autographs at the show to promote a biodiesel race car in the works.

Bill Isbister, founder of Portland's Club Biodiesel and the brains behind the biodiesel race-car plan, sees racing as a way to bring alternative fuels to the mainstream. If Justice can help the car break speed and mileage records, "Joe Sixpack" will take notice.

"Something like that is worth a hundred conferences," Isbister says.

Conference attendees will also get some preaching from the choir, in the form of two veggie-bus-driving bands, San Francisco-based Aphrodesia and Portland's Taarka. Both bands will be playing outside at the show.

Aphrodesia bassist Ezra Gale says his group has never played a car show before, and he's "psyched." The band, which tours in a "big-ass coach bus" powered by vegetable oil, already has a veggie-oil song ready for the occasion.

"We need to cover songs about cars, though," he adds. "We have a week to get it together."

 
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