University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

UCR Runs Hydrogen Powered Shelby Cobra in Speed Trial

UCR Runs Hydrogen Powered Shelby Cobra in Speed Trial

(October 30, 2001)

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside modified a roadster, provided by legendary auto designer Carroll Shelby, to run on hydrogen fuel at the Bonneville World Finals Oct. 17 through 20. It may not have been the fastest Shelby Cobra to ever run the salt flats but it was the cleanest, emitting mostly water.

“Speed was not our primary objective,” said James Heffel, principal research engineer at the College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology at UCR (CE-CERT). “Our primary objective was to show hydrogen is not as dangerous as most people think and that it can be used as a clean automotive fuel.” Still, the Cobra, a 2000 reintroduction, did a respectable 108.16 mph in its best of eight runs over two days – missing the world record for hydrogen powered vehicles by 0.1 mph.

The Cobra was the only vehicle in its class at this year’s Bonneville World Finals, in which different types of vehicles competed to see which was fastest in its class. Hydrogen-fueled vehicles ran at Bonneville in the early 1990s but were prohibited several years later after officials thought they were too dangerous to allow on the course. They were allowed back in 2000.

CE-CERT has been researching hydrogen fuel for transportation since July 1992. Under a program sponsored by the South Coast Air Quality management District, researchers modified a Ford Ranger pickup to run on Hydrogen and developed a solar-powered fueling station.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links