Simona De Silvestro Tours Grand Gulf Nuclear Station
The IZOD INDYCAR Series meets nuclear energy as HVM's Simona De Silvestro drives a new understanding for both industries.
|Simona De Silvestro|
Simona has been a busy woman since she and her HVM Racing team announced their title sponsorship in Baltimore just last month. But, before she got too comfortable in the cockpit of her #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy machine, her new supporters at Entergy invited her to a place few people have had the fortune to visit: inside one of their nuclear energy plants that is also one of the largest reactors in the world, Grand Gulf Nuclear Station.
Team owner Keith Wiggins, team partner Imran Safiulla, and Simona were all part of a plant tour, being given a rare insight into what actually goes on inside the nuclear energy facilities that provide 20 percent of all electricity in the United States.control room.
Jeremy Browning, general manager of plant operations at Grand Gulf, located in Port Gibson, Miss., was their personal guide for the visit. This included stepping into the simulator control room, an exact replica of the actual reactor control room the group saw later on the tour. "People are amazed at the complexity and safety protections of the redundant, operational and safety systems that are built into a nuclear plant," Browning commented. "Simona had great questions and was quick to tell me that her home country of Switzerland gets 40 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy," he added.
The HVM Racing group stepped through an introductory education program about nuclear energy, explained by plant engineers and educators. Learning about the benefits of nuclear power as a source of carbon-free electricity, Grand Gulf employees stressed that nuclear energy accounts for 71 percent of America's electricity that is produced by carbon-free generation.
cooling tower “I didn't realize that the volume of greenhouse gas emissions prevented at the 104 nuclear energy plants in the U.S. is equivalent to taking nearly all passenger cars off America's roadways. That was an eye-opening statistic," Wiggins noted.
Quotes from Simona De Silvestro, #78 driver of the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car:
"I was so impressed with the amount of security that we went through and the enormity of the electricity produced 24-7 without interruption. It's a big place," exclaimed Simona following the tour. "It didn't take long to see how well-managed the plant is by really impressive engineers and other nuclear professionals."
"I really am lucky to get inside and see a nuclear facility making electricity. That is something that most people don't get to do. But I think that if they did, people would understand more about the process and appreciate getting clean electricity to use any hour of the day. We definitely need to have more clean nuclear electricity in the U.S. "generator room
"I want to thank Energy for my sponsorship and the opportunity to see, in person, how 'Nuclear Clean Air Energy' is made. It means much more than just being a message on the side of my car now."
Following the plant tour, Simona signed autographs for employees at the plant, a small percentage of the more than 15,000 employees in the Entergy Corporation. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity delivering electricity to 2.7 million utility customers.
With the full-season, multi-year partnership of Entergy, HVM and Simona are hitting the ground running with pre-season testing in preparation for the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 27. Testing later this month includes runs at Texas Motor Speedway, Sebring, and then on to the official IZOD INDYCAR Series test at Barber Motorsports Park in March.
"We are very proud and fortunate to have the support and confidence of Entergy at HVM. And now we have a much greater appreciation of the trust and high regard we have in Entergy as they operate the second largest nuclear power fleet in the U.S. It was an impressive day," Wiggins concluded. HVM Racing was founded by Keith Wiggins and is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. HVM enters 2011 as its tenth year of competition since forming in 2001 and has earned six victories, two pole positions, and an additional 16 podiums. They earned "Indianapolis Rookie of the Year" honors with driver Simona De Silvestro at the 2010 event and since joining the IZOD INDYCAR Series in 2008, the team has earned nine top-10 finishes. HVM finished fourth and third, respectively, in the Champ Car World Series in 2006 and 2007, and earned drivers Mario Dominguez and Robert Doornbos Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Follow HVM Racing at www.hvmracing.com , on twitter at twitter.com/HVMracing , and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HVMRacing
Entergy is the second largest owner and operator of U.S. nuclear energy plants. They operate or provide management services to 12 reactors at 10 sites. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity and delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and more than 15,000 employees. www.entergy-nuclear.com