St. Petersburg, Florida will be the site of the greenest racing event in history this weekend when both the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series will compete on the streets in the Honda Grand Prix and Acura Sports Car Challenge. This is the second year that the IndyCar Series is racing on 100 percent ethanol and the first year the American Le Mans Series is offering cellulosic E85 racing ethanol to its teams.
Doug Robinson, executive director of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), which is the sanctioning body of the American Le Mans Series, says allowing the use of 85 percent cellulosic ethanol in that racing venue is part of their “green racing” platform that helps test alternative fuels and create public awareness.
“In rolling out that green racing strategy, the first step was to look at the renewable fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions,” Robinson said.
As a result, Robinson says, they set into motion a plan to develop a high performance, high octane, gasoline-based racing fuel as a baseline and allow alternative fuels into the series.
“Our base fuel has ten percent ethanol, much like many of the pumps that you buy fuel for your road car,” he said. “Then this year we started with an E85 fuel and we aligned ourselves with the first company to be producing second generation, cellulosic ethanol made from wood waste from the Black Hills forest.”
That company is KL Process Design Group of South Dakota, which has been contracted by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, the leader in bringing “green” fuels to motorsports, to provide cellulosic E85 racing fuel (E85R) for Corvette Racing.
The Team Ethanol transporter carrying the #17 Team Ethanol Indy Car arrived at St. Pete earlier this week, fresh off a 7th place finish in last week’s season opener under the lights in Homestead.
Team Ethanol driver Ryan Hunter-Reay is a big believer in ethanol and using it in racing to prove performance and environmental benefits. “Racing is the forefront of what goes on in the automotive market,” Hunter-Reay said. “So, it fits for racing to be going in this direction.”
This weekend’s American Le Mans Series and IndyCar Series races highlighting ethanol will be broadcast globally. ABC will televise the one-hour, 55-minute Acura Sports Car Challenge starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on April 5. The IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix at 2:30 pm ET on April 6 will be broadcast on ESPN.
(Photo credit Steve Snoddy, Indy Racing League)