Ethanol Express on the Water

Cindy Zimmerman

The Ethanol Express was one of more than 50 racing boats that sped around Cedar Valley Reservoir running ten percent ethanol fuel (E10) at the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) “Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Nationals” this past weekend in Garnett, Kansas, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The custom boat is piloted by “Burnin’ Vernon” Barfield, a boat racer from Kansas who hosted the race in Garnett. “We’re running a bone stock engine on that particular boat and it has been testing out about 81-82 miles an hour,” said Barfield, pictured below showing off the boat to some young fans.

RFA partnered with NBRA earlier this year to help dispel concerns about the use of ethanol fuel in boat engines. “We’ve stuck with pump fuel, right out of the same pump that everyone else is using to put in their cars. We mix in our oil, and that’s what we run in our two-strokers, been running it all year and I personally have had no problems whatsoever,” said Barfield. “The only thing that I’m seeing, which is a pleasant surprise, is just a little more speed.”

Barfield says he believes that with proper maintenance, boat engines run just fine on ethanol-blended fuel. “I think it’s just an unfair scenario that everybody likes to blame ethanol because he’s the new kid on the block,” and he thinks over time every one will embrace ethanol “because it keeps Americans working.”

Listen to my interview with Vernon Barfield here: Burnin' Vernon Barfield

Each race in each class is just three laps around a relatively small course, which takes a total of about three minutes. Takes a look in the video below:

See photos from the race here: NBRA Ethanol Boat Race

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