Racing Boats on Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

All of the more than 50 boats that raced in this past weekend’s National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) “Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Nationals” had to prove they were using 10 percent ethanol fuel in order to compete for prize money in the race sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

“We have fuel testing to make sure we’re running ethanol because of the contingency prize money,” said NBRA president Dan Crummett. “We are testing all the fuel before the race and then the top three entries in any class are tested when they come in to make sure they are running ethanol.”

The simple fuel test is done with a vial marketed by Mercury Marine that uses water to allow the ethanol to come out of suspension with the fuel to be measured. Most of the racing fuel is purchased at local gas stations since regular unleaded in most areas contains 10 percent ethanol.

The NBRA races include a number of different classes with light, single person boats than run as fast as 96 miles per hour. “We race stock and modified outboards with hydroplanes and runabouts,” said Crummett. Ethanol is a sponsor for all the NBRA races being held around the country this year to show its performance in marine engines. Crummett says most of the issues that boaters experience when using ethanol-blended fuel are maintenance related. “Any fuel will degrade over not a long period of time once the oil is mixed in it,” he says, which is why it’s so important for boaters to avoid leaving fuel in the tank for an extended time without running the engine.

Listen to my interview with Dan Crummett here and watch him demonstrate the ethanol test in the video below: NBRA President Dan Crummett

See photos from the race here: NBRA Ethanol Boat Race

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