Remembering Paul Dana

Cindy Zimmerman

It was one year ago today that one of ethanol’s strongest advocates died tragically doing what he loved best – racing. It is a significant tribute to Paul Dana that he accomplished a major goal in his life, getting the IndyCar Series to switch to ethanol, before he passed away.

This past weekend’s inaugural race on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol at Homestead-Miami Speedway was bittersweet to many on Team Ethanol who worked with Paul and helped him to make his dream come true. “Early on Paul Dana saw the potential that ethanol and renewable fuels could bring to racing, the greening of the racing platform,” said Ethanol Promotion and Information Council Executive Director Tom Slunecka. “Paul worked tirelessly to help bring the ethanol industry together with the racing industry.”

In Memory of Paul Dana

EPIC board member Greg Krissek of ICM met Paul early in his quest to move ethanol into the IRL. “His vision helped us start this process and that vision is being carried on by many others today,” said Krissek. “It was a great start and we are carrying that legacy forward for him.”

Paul Dana was a native of St. Louis and in an interview Domestic Fuel did with him in January 2006 he said, “I’ve always been a little bit of a weird duck in racing in that I have been an environmentalist and thought about ways that we could take our leadership position as drivers and put that at the disposal of something useful.”

“Racing exists as an industry to sell cars and tires and motor oil and here we’ve got this great American success story in ethanol,” Dana continued. “The ag industry has developed a very viable fuel industry as a secondary product and with the IndyCar Series being based in the midwest, its a natural fit.”

In his very last interview, done with Domestic Fuel the night before last year’s Homestead race, Dana was happy and enthusiastic about the future. “It’s a whole new world and a bright new day and I can’t wait for the season to start tomorrow,” he said.

Besides the legacy Paul left behind with IndyCar Series moving to 100 percent ethanol, he left an even more important legacy to his wife and family – his son, Conor Paul, who was born in December, just a few weeks shy of nine months after Paul’s death. Paul’s wife, Tonya Bergeson-Dana, bravely endured a few media interviews over the weekend marking the anniversary, one of which aired during the Homestead race broadcast on ESPN2. One story in particular by the Miami Herald is well worth reading.

We miss you, Paul.

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