NY to LA Biodiesel Trek Completed in Record Time

Nik Bristow and Brian Pierce set out to drive coast-to-coast non-stop from New York City to Los Angeles on “one tank” of biodiesel fuel, but ran short due to miscalculation. Nik and Brian thought they had everything nailed down when they left NYC at 10 PM on Monday night in their 2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI sedan. They hadn’t planned to pick up an additional 15 gallons of fuel in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Call it NY to LA on one tank and a 15 gallon refill. On a 2903 mile trip that took just one day, 14 hours and 37 minutes, setting an unofficial new record time for a coast-to-coast trip on biodiesel.

Blame the fuel shortfall on short fills and heavy feet …

In addition to the standard fuel tank, Nik and Brian’s Willie Run Jetta TDI carried 14 jugs of fuel. Unfortunately, each jug was just a gallon shy of full.

It was impossible to precisely calculate fuel economy, due to the unconventional nature of the TDI’s in-flight refueling. With the number crunching yet to be done, rough estimates point to an average of 40 miles per gallon (MPG).

That would peg the voyage at roughly two-thirds of the MPG average of the record-setting 48-state Taylor’s Diesel Inspiration Tour, which used conventional Shell diesel fuel in a 2009 VW Jetta TDI.

“We’re trying to drive like Americans,” said Brian as they drove the last leg of the trip. “This country is too big to drive slow.”

“If you have money to burn, go 110 miles per hour (MPH). At 110 MPH, the Jetta will get about 26 miles per gallon.”

So how did they refill while driving?

“A B-52 does not hover above us,” Nik explained while in route. “There’s an access panel underneath the backseat, we pulled up the seat, took it out, and pulled out the access panel. Then we drilled a hole through the panel and screwed a hose fitting into the hole we drilled, sealed it, and attached a funnel inside a milk crate … it’s secure.”

The Willie Run Jetta TDI’s unconventional refueling method aside, too many Americans believe that biodiesel is a pie-in-the-sky scheme; a primary goal of Willie Run is to prove it’s not.

“You don’t have to go to extremes to use this fuel,” Nik explained. “This fuel is not futuristic. You can get it right now.” The Jetta required no modifications to run the B20 BioWille brand fuel.

The glory and the spectacle was streamed live on ustream.tv. Roughly 230 ustreamers were watching as Nik and Brian neared the Santa Monica pier, devouring corporate bandwidth coast-to-coast.

Willie Run 08 was sponsored by Earth Biofuels, the home of BioWille brand biodiesel, Power Service Diesel Additives, Fitzgerald and Company (Nik and Brian’s employer), and a host of folks (including MPGomatic.com) that donated a whopping $5 or more to have their name featured on the Jetta TDI’s wrapped graphics. (We went all out and dropped $25 to pick up a souvenir Wille Run t-shirt, to boot.)

Brian’s plan on arrival? Eat, Shower, Sleep, Drink.

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