Dr. Ricketts' Travels 2,582 Miles On Less Than 2.15 Gallons of Gas

Mar 09, 2012 at 06:08 am by bryan

The long wait has ended. MTSU Professor Cliff Ricketts has achieved a career goal of driving coast-to-coast on 10 gallons or less of gasoline purchased at the pump.

You almost could say he not only accomplished the feat, he obliterated it.


Ricketts and his eight-member support team drove three Toyota hybrid alternative-fuels vehicles approximately 2,582 miles across country, using only about 2.15 gallons of fuel purchased at the gas pump.

“I feel like I climbed Mount Everest,” said Ricketts, who lives outside Mt. Juliet in Wilson County and commutes to MTSU. “This has significance in life and it has significance for mankind.”

The personable Ricketts and support team members calculated the five-day trip

could be accomplished in 10 gallons or less. Behind the scenes, he and experts Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennnnessee, Mike Sims of Jackson, Michigan, and several students believed it could be achieved using about 2.5 gallons of gas.

“Using 2.15 gallons of gas (to go across the country) is awesome,” Ricketts said. “We had three bars left, which meant three gallons. So, officially, we used only 2.15 gallons.”

An exuberant Ricketts, who has spent 36 years as an MTSU faculty member and invested 34 years into research of alternative fuels, took off his shoes and socks, waded into the nearby Pacific Ocean and let out a large whoop for all in the vicinity to hear after achieving his goal.

From Conway and Fort Smith, Arkansas to Long Beach, Ricketts and Young drove a 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid, using E95 and electric (two, 10-kilowatt-hour battery packs).

Ricketts and the team, which began the journey on Sunday, March 4, from Tybee Island, Ga., near Savannah and traveled across the southern U.S. tier on Interstate 40, arrived in Long Beach at about 3:15 CST, more than one hour earlier than they expected.

From Conway and Fort Smith, Ark., to Long Beach, Ricketts and Young drove a 2007Toyota Prius hybrid, using E95 and electric (two, 10-kilowatt-hour battery packs).

A 1994, four-speed Toyota Tercel and an ’05 Toyota Prius hybrid were driven on the first day from Tybee Island to Murfreesboro and March 5 from MTSU to Conway, Ark. In the first 900 miles, zero gas was used, Ricketts said, adding that other fuel sources were solar (the sun), electric, ethanol and hydrogen from water.

In addition to Young, who shared driving duties with Ricketts, and Sims, the team included MTSU students Travis Owens, Brett Harris, Steve Foe, Dawn Baker and Hayley Box, and Sonya D’Archangel, an Austin Peay State University student, who joined them on the trip. 

Ricketts said he also plans a similar coast-to-coast trip in 2013, that one on sun and water. It should be noted that as of March 8, AAA said national average gasprices were $3.76 for regular, $3.90 for mid-grade and $4.04 for premium.


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