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Eric Latino, founder of Global Emissions Systems, and his Green Team race car. (Dave Erauw/Dave Erauw)
Eric Latino, founder of Global Emissions Systems, and his Green Team race car. (Dave Erauw/Dave Erauw)

Success Stories

Mechanic cleans up auto-racing circuit Add to ...

A: We were still a cottage industry that year when Al Gore went around the world on his Inconvenient Truth tour telling everybody that greenhouse gases are here and we have to deal with climate change and reduce industrial emissions. Our phone rang off the wall. I found myself spending more time on the emission controls than I was on my performance industry. As much as I really loved what I was doing, I felt there was a bigger opportunity and more of a demand for green technology.

We did bring in some investors. By then, we realized that we had a really big deal – a company that could do well in the space. We’d test our products against competitors’ products and have a greater reduction of emissions. So in 2007, we bought our facilities in Whitby and I started doing the emission controls full time.

Q: How do you define your role in the company?

A: I’ve been a blue collar worker, never a white collar worker, and I’d never been involved with the corporate world before. By 2008, I realized that I needed somebody who could help me grow this company. I had a long-time Redline customer, Gary Jarosz, who had worked with IBM and Xerox, and I felt he was the right guy to help me scale this company. He’s vice-president now and does a lot of the administration work

I’m president and CEO, but I’m more a chief technology officer doing a lot of research and development and the on-road testing. We’re kind of wearing three or four different hats right now.

Q: What was the biggest push for the company?

A: Legislation. There was nothing pushing people to use emission controls until legislation forced them to do it. As much as they all said ‘wow, great technology, great idea, we gotta do it,’ they had no budget for it.

Q: Why did you go back to racing?

A: We felt that you couldn’t go to a race team and convince them that you have to push the green thing in motor sports without doing it ourselves. This past season, we built a brand new race car that runs on ethanol, painted it black on the bottom and green on the top with a barbed wire twisted through the two colours. The whole sell is that the black is where the environment was going to, the barbed wire is the safety barrier and the green is where we’re trying to bring the environment to.

When I decided to get back into racing, I went out and found the right partners and crew. I partnered with Bruce Mehlenbacher, director of operations for the PMRA (Pro Modified Race Association) series. Basically what we’re doing is educating racers about making greener choices. We’ve done seminars with about 250 racers on following environmental practices at the track. For example, how to capture and recycle the leftover oil left in emptied containers that’s normally wasted

We’re bringing our emissions technology into racing as well. On our co-race team, we have GESi technology devices on our generators, tow vehicles and we’re now coding the internal components of the exhaust pipes with our technology to reduce the emissions coming out of the race car. We have orders from other racers who want to retrofit their existing equipment to reduce emissions coming out of their gas-burning engines.

Rob Sporing and I teamed up to build the new car with everything state of the art. Financially, for me to do this alone, I’d have to invest about $1 million dollars for trailers, trucks, motors and all. We didn’t cut corners with the body or engine but when we came up to our first race, we struggled. With a brand new car on the racetrack, you have to make adjustments to the suspension and engine. So we didn’t qualify in our first race, which put us about 50 points behind in that series.

We qualified at No. 2 for our second race at the Cayuga Dragway, ended up winning and setting a Canadian record there.

Q: How did that feel?

A: Unbelievable. I couldn’t even put my helmet on, my head was so big.

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