NASCAR to use American-made E15

By Holly Jessen | October 14, 2010
Posted Oct. 20, 2010

E15 is coming to National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing racetracks in 2011, the association announced Oct. 16. An estimated 70,000 gallons of homegrown corn ethanol will be used at three national touring series races next year.

"We are leading by example, showing that this renewable fuel—which reduces greenhouse gas emissions—works in the most demanding racing environment in the world," said Mike Lynch, managing director for Green Innovation for NASCAR.

The news that NASCAR is moving to E15 came just days after the U.S. EPA approved the use of E15 in vehicle models 2007 and newer. The timing, though interesting, was coincidental, said Andrew Giangola, director of business communications for NASCAR. NASCAR had been working on the decision to move to E15 for months before the EPA made its announcement. "This fuel is good for racing, it's good for the environment and it's good for America," he said. "We're helping create jobs here in the U.S. and helping foster American independence."

Before settling on E15 made from corn, NASCAR investigated many other possible fuels, including sugar cane ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen and even eclectic or hybrid powered vehicles, Giangola said. In the end, domestic corn ethanol was available immediately and already compatible with existing engines. NASCAR team engine builders have been testing the fuel for months, with many reporting ramped up horsepower thanks to E15.

E15 used for NASCAR races will be blended at the Sunoco Inc. facility in Marcus Hook, Pa. Some of the ethanol will come from the 85 MMgy Sunoco ethanol plant in Fulton, N.Y., which Sunoco purchased and restarted in June. The fuel, which is provided to NASCAR teams at no cost, will be pumped directly from tankers at the track.

The move to E15 is part of NASCAR's effort to become an environmental leader. In past years, NASCAR has implemented recycling and other environmentally friendly initiatives. One carbon mitigation program plants 10 trees for each green flag (about 10 total) waved at each NASCAR Sprint Cup series race, Giangola said. At Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, a 25-acre solar farm was installed that provide power to the racetrack and 1,000 local homes. NASCAR fans are traditionally campers, hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen and expect the sport to "go green", he said. Sponsors do too. "Now it's time to turn our attention to the fuel," he added.

NASCAR joins other races featuring ethanol. The Iowa Corn Indy 250, the only Indy race to run on corn ethanol, was held in June. UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, provides 100 percent ethanol for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Those Indy races run on 100 percent ethanol. Iogen Energy Corp., the Canadian cellulosic producer, provides ethanol to Drayson Racing for the American Le Mans series and to Ferrari for the Formula One season.