Last week, the Indy Racing League ran a full test for the first time at the famed Daytona International Speedway. But, that was not the only momentous thing that went on that day. It was also the first time their 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engines performed with 100-percent fuel grade ethanol. The ethanol fuel will be the only fuel that will will power their series cars this year.
"This was a milestone week for ethanol and the IndyCar Series since every car at the test was running on 100 percent (fuel-grade) ethanol. The best thing about the test was that there wasn't a huge difference between how the cars were last year and how the cars were running the last couple of days,'' said Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Patron Tequila Dallara/Honda/Firestone. "In fact, the few slight differences were all positive. That is a huge credit to Honda, the IndyCar Series and ethanol for making sure that the transition to a renewable fuel source has been so smooth."
There were no major issues found by the 17 IndyCar Series drivers and their teams that were at the two-day event. They registered nearly 1,700 laps on the 10-turn, 2.72-mile road course. The IndyCar Series is the first and only in motorsports to run on a renewable fuel.
"One of the first things I get asked as the Team Ethanol driver is if ethanol is good for a street car. The proof is in what you saw the last few days. The entire IndyCar Series field that ran at Daytona was powered without issue on 100 percent (fuel-grade) ethanol, a renewable energy source that is grown right here in the United States,'' said Jeff Simmons, driver of the No. 17 Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone. "Ethanol performed wonderfully during the test, and if it is good enough for our high-tech, high horse-powered IndyCars, it will certainly get you to around town and back. This is an exciting and historic day for the ethanol industry and the IndyCar Series. We know it is going to be a historic season for ethanol and it is great to kick it off with such a positive test at Daytona.''
Ethanol is produced from corn and it's use in every day cars has the potential to reduce the United States' need for imported oils from foreign countries. People believe that this would strengthening the economy.
Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti noted the absence of fumes, which in the past bothered his eyes while a few drivers noticed a different, but familiar smell while running in traffic. "I really didn't notice any difference at all, which I think is the point," said 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon, who ran the 100 percent fuel grade ethanol for the first time at the test. "It's better for the environment, fuel efficient and hasn't affected engine performance."
The IndyCar Series' next opportunity to demonstrate the power of ethanol will be during its next Open Test scheduled for February 21-22 at Homestead Miami Speedway.
I would like to commend the IndyCar Series for their actions. It's nice to see that environmental action is being taken, albeit a small one, in the world of sport.
One question I have about corn ethanol. Is there enought land in North America to grow all the corn needed if everyone goes to a renewable resource like this? Has anyone thought about that?