IndyCar Series, APEX-Brasil partner; RFA objects

By Erin Voegele | November 03, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 24, 2008 at 10:19 a.m. CST

IndyCar Series and APEX-Brasil, a Brazilian trade association, have formed a partnership. Beginning with the 2009 season, APEX-Brasil will be the official ethanol supplier for the IndyCar Series. The multi-year deal, announced Nov. 18, named APEX-Brasil an official partner of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500.

UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, will cooperate with APEX-Brasil to identify those interested in supplying ethanol to the series. Initially, UNICA said it will look for a U.S.-based ethanol company to partner with in supplying the IndyCar Series with corn-based ethanol.

However, in a Nov. 21 letter to Terry Angstadt, IRL president of the commercial division, the Renewable Fuels Association urged him to reconsider the decision to make Brazil the official ethanol supplier for the IndyCar Series. In the letter, RFA President Bob Dinneen said that at a minimum, American homegrown ethanol should be used to fuel the Indianapolis 500.

"The decision to bypass the more than 180 ethanol biorefineries across our country in favor of a tanker ship from Sao Paulo to be the official supplier of fuel for the IRL is an affront to America's farmers who have worked to enhance economic opportunities for rural communities and all Americans who have fought and are fighting for our energy independence," Dinneen said in the letter.

According to statements released by the IndyCar Series and APEX-Brasil on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18, the partnership was formed to help communicate the many ways ethanol can be produced, and to enhance the product's position as a global commodity. A primary message of the partnership is that regardless of the feedstock, whether it's corn, sugarcane, or cellulsoic material, the end product is a clean renewable biofuel that reduces dependence on fossil fuels and combats the causes of climate change.

In the statement released by APEX-Brasil, UNICA's President Marcos Sawaya Jank said the deal strengthens a natural partnership between Brazil and the United States, the world's top two producers and consumers of ethanol. Together, the two countries account for more than 75 percent of global ethanol production. In 2007, the United States and Brazil governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding on biofuels, which aimed to consolidate ethanol as a global commodity. Jank said the partnership between the IndyCar Series and APEX-Brasil will help fulfill that goal.

Alessandro Teixeira, APEX-Brasil's president and Terry Angstadt, IRL commercial division president, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nov. 17 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, during the Brazil Bio-fuel's International Exhibition.

The IndyCar Series first began using renewable fuel in 2006, requiring all of its competitors to use a blend of 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol, in preparation to move to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2007. The IndyCar Series will continue to use 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2009.