The New York Times automotive section has a fascinating account from its regular contributor Bob Knoll about driving for the Chrysler team in the 1964 Mobil Economy Run. Last run in 1968, this was an annual coast-to-coast driving competition that determined the actual miles per gallon of new car models. All the leading automakers competed, and the race was such a big deal that spectators would line the streets of small towns to watch the cars go by. In Phoenix, Knoll writes, it "seemed like a holiday parade: flags were flying, bands were playing and crowds of people were waving."
Four decades later, when the country is in the midst of debates about "oil security," "blood for oil," and "energy independence," it is hard to believe that cars are not getting better miles per gallon than the mid-20s of that 1964 fuel efficiency competition. And despite the recent changes to the way the EPA calculates mpg, the issue of fuel efficiency is hardly getting Americans out on the streets waving flags.
So that's why we love Wayne Gerdes, the world's most fuel efficient driver, and the subject of this fun story in the January/February 2007 Mother Jones. Wayne gets 59 mpg in a non-hybrid Honda Civic and off-the-chart triple-digit mpgs in hybrids. He's also ballsier than your average turn-off-the-engine-at-a-red-light type: Have you tried drafting an 18-wheeler downhill with the engine turned off? Read it and then send us your best hypermiling tips.