February 21, 2007

INDY 500: Drivers, start your ethanol-fueled engines

This may not be what CalSTEP has in mind as a replacement standard to gas guzzlers on California freeways, but it sure turns heads.

Actually, if you are trying to change perceptions about something as basic as vehicle fuel, showcasing its performance and safety benefits in America's premier racecar event is a no-brainer. Henry Ford, an enthusiastic early promoter of ethanol (a friend of the farmer), would probably say "What took you so long?"

Here is part of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council recent press release about this year's official IndyCar® Series changeover to 100% ethanol.

IndyCar Series Sets the Pace in Renewable Fuels
The first and only motorsports series to run ethanol, the IndyCar® Series is at the forefront of this push for renewable energy with its switch to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol for the 2007 season. This decision makes the IndyCar Series, the cutting-edge leader in motorsports safety and technology, a leader in renewable and environmentally responsible fuel produced in the U.S.

“The IndyCar Series shares the President’s commitment to energy security,” said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series. “We accept the challenge of making these goals a reality.”

Indy-style racing has used methanol with impressive results since the late 1960’s. Ethanol shares methanol’s performance benefits, but has clear environmental and safety advantages.

Fuel enriched with a 10 percent ethanol blend used in passenger vehicles reduces harmful tailpipe emissions by as much as 30 percent and the emission reductions are even greater with E85. In 2005, ethanol use in the U.S. reduced carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 8 million tons. These gases contribute to global climate change.

“The partnership between the IndyCar Series and the ethanol industry exemplifies the spirit of energy independence, American ingenuity and innovation,” said Tom Slunecka, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).

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