MotorWeek Video Transcript: Ethanol Preferred by Indy Racing
John Davis: In an age where drivers switch sponsor allegiances as quickly as they change hats, Team Ethanol Indy Car driver Paul Dana was a rarity: A driver who not only believed in his sponsor’s product, he took a personal interest in promoting it.
Tragically, a collision during practice killed Paul just hours before the season’s first green flag. Although his life was cut short before he ever won a race in the IRL, he leaves behind a champion’s legacy no less powerful.
We know ethanol is a clean-burning, renewable and American-made alternative to imported petroleum as a fuel for our street cars, but ethanol is also well-suited as a performance fuel.
Tim Tom Slunecka: The ethanol industry has been trying to communicate its value not only from an economic standpoint, and a renewable fuels standpoint, but as a performance standpoint.
John Davis: Still, it took the tenacious urging of Paul Dana to show Team Ethanol the path to marketing’s victory lane. And it was through Paul’s determined efforts that ethanol has become the fuel of choice for the Indy Racing League.
Paul Dana: Here we have a home-grown American fuel that has a huge base of grass-roots support throughout the Midwest and particularly among the farming community.
And Indy Cars, traditionally, have run on an alcohol. Although its methanol, it’s an alcohol-based series. So, can it happen? Does it make sense? What are the technical hurdles? What are the PR upsides?
John Davis: It took years of tireless salesmanship on Paul’s part, but the results speak for themselves: In 2006, the IRL will run a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% methanol, and starting with the 2007 season, the mandated fuel for all IRL racers will be pure ethanol.
Tom Slunecka: The great thing that occurred was that Paul had a vision beyond racing and beyond himself.
Paul built this program about the fuel switch, it wasn’t about him and one car, it was about telling the world that ethanol will perform not only at 220 MPH, which was his dream, but at 60 MPH like most of us drive, and so our program is as robust and maybe even stronger in its resolve because of his activities in getting it started.
John Davis: U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman recently saw first-hand how ethanol has fit in seamlessly with the IRL.
Those same performance advantages make ethanol attractive for other forms of racing too. Dan Schwartzkopf has run a successful drag racing effort on ethanol fuel for years.
You’ll also find ethanol fuel in racing machines as diverse as power boats, tractor and truck pulls, and sprint cars at venues all over the country.
Come race day at Indy, the action on track may take center stage; but in pit lane its clean, renewable ethanol that fuels the greatest spectacle in Motorsports.