Hoping to show that even mean can be green, entrepreneur and speed enthusiast Karl Jacob brought his ethanol-fueled Dodge Viper to Southern California this week to try to set a few speed records.
The special V-10 engine in the street-legal convertible pumps out almost 1,100 horsepower.
Jacob, 39, a San Franciscan who runs Wallop, an online social networking service, actually drives the car around his hilly hometown occasionally.
On its first run Wednesday down the runway at the Mojave Air & Space Port, the Viper hit 189 mph. Jacob, who had a professional race driver behind the wheel, said he chose E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, as his fuel to show that the stuff -- heavily promoted by carmakers, politicians, corn growers and some environmentalists -- packs a powerful punch.
Ethanol, distilled from corn, sugar cane and other plant material, is an alcohol with a higher octane rating than gasoline. Jacob's E85 blend is the same fuel dispensed for conventional flex-fuel vehicles throughout the Midwest. (There's only one public ethanol station in California.)