By Daniel Flynn
The "Grease to Greece" race, the brainchild of 34-year-old Londoner Andy Pag, took the teams on a 10-day mission across Europe in which they begged oil to fuel their cars from restaurants, motorway cafes and fast-food joints along the way.
"There is no reason why Joe Public cannot do this, save themselves a bit of money and help the environment because they are not using fossil fuels," Pag said.
The race ended on Wednesday with a ceremony at the British Embassy in Athens where Ambassador Simon Gass presented a Golden Lard award to the team which had earned the most "Grease Marks" for collecting fuel.
Unlike expensive conventional rallies such as the Paris-Dakar, Pag paid only 500 British pounds ($900) for his second-hand Peugeot 405 and spent nothing on fuel since leaving London -- saving the equivalent of what he paid for the car.
An experienced eco-traveler, Pag drove to the desert town of Timbuktu in Mali last year using a truck powered by waste chocolate. His next scheme is a round-the-world trip next year using aviation fuel made from recycled plastic bags.
Racers received a warm welcome from most restauranteurs.
"Whenever people have had oil they have been really, really willing to give it. It's a waste product for them so we are taking away their rubbish," Pag told Reuters.
The competitors in the race included a policeman, several engineers, farmers, a film editor, and an accountant.
Farmers Coleen and Mario Chadwick drove to Athens in their unconverted Range Rover, using used cooking oil sieved through kitchen equipment. They plan to keep driving on cooking oil from their local primary school once they return to England.
Pag's red Peugeot was converted to run on cooking oil using an kit produced by Britain's Regenatec.
"Demand for this technology is rocketing," said Adrian Hensen, whose company sells bio-fuel equipment. "With petrol prices so high, lots of people are looking for ways to reduce their fuel bills and this is a fantastic way to do it."
(Additional reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios)