IRL: Series to use ethanol-methanol fuel blend

INDYCAR SERIES IN LINE WITH PRESIDENT'S CALL TO ACTION INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2006 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series already is in line with President Bush's recent call for America to wean itself from foreign oil by embracing alternative...

INDYCAR SERIES IN LINE WITH PRESIDENT'S CALL TO ACTION

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2006 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series already is in line with President Bush's recent call for America to wean itself from foreign oil by embracing alternative fuel sources such as ethanol.

The IndyCar Series, entering its 11th season of competition March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will use an ethanol-methanol blend to power its Honda engines in 2006. The series will turn to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol for the 2007 season.

"America is addicted to oil. The best way to break this addiction is through technology," Bush said in his sixth State of the Union address on Jan. 31.

In his remarks, the President emphasized the important role ethanol can play in America's energy future, helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil while improving our environment.

Ethanol industry officials hope that fueling the IndyCar Series will translate into an increase in auto manufacturers producing Flexible Fuel Vehicles that run on 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

"The IndyCar Series always has been recognized for its technical leadership in automobile racing and now it is the industry's leader in renewable and environmentally responsible energy," says Brian Barnhart, president and COO of the Indy Racing League. "We are proud to partner with the ethanol industry to showcase a great American fuel source. We feel a commitment to the environment and our country's energy security is consistent with our sport's legacy of race-bred innovation and leadership."

Ethanol is the only proven commercial scale renewable transportation fuel currently available in the marketplace. By the end of 2006, the U.S. ethanol industry will have a capacity of over 5 billion gallons annually -- up more than 300 percent from five years ago. While that 5 billion is just a fraction of the 140 billion domestic market ethanol is now blended into more than a third of our nation's gasoline supply. By 2012, capacity will exceed 7.5 billion, the volume required in the Renewable Fuels Standard in last year's energy bill.

"There is a large and dedicated group of people in this country working overtime to lessen our dependence on oil. More than 92 U.S. ethanol plants are providing ethanol for our nation's fuel supply and this is growing as the demand for ethanol continues to grow," says Tom Slunecka, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). "Our partnership with the IndyCar Series has helped to demonstrate that gas enriched with ethanol will help your car achieve its maximum performance."

Transition from methanol to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol over the next two IndyCar Series seasons will have no significant technical barriers. The fans will not notice a change -- speed and horsepower will remain the same, and better fuel mileage is expected. Using the ethanol blend during the first Open Test of the season, four drivers bettered last year's pole speed at Phoenix International Raceway.

"The transition between methanol and ethanol in our cars has been very smooth," says Phil Casey, IRL senior technical director. "Our cars don't sound differently, smell differently or run differently than they have in the past. It's been a seamless transition so far."

As a clean-burning and renewable fuel that is non-toxic and 100 percent biodegradable, it reduces air pollution (a 10 percent blend reduces carbon monoxide better than any other reformulated gasoline by as much a 30 percent and shows a 35-46 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions) and improves racing's environmental footprint. The highest commercial octane rated fuel delivers strong engine performance by helping engines resist detonation so they can run higher compression ratios.

The 2006 season will not be the first time ethanol has powered a car in the famed Indianapolis 500. At the 1927 race, a car driven by Leon Duray experimented with using ethyl (grain) alcohols.

The Indy Racing League -- the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series -- worked with a coalition of ethanol industry companies, led by the major ethanol facility engineering and construction firms ICM Inc., Fagen Inc., and Broin Companies, in making the transition to ethanol. To help build awareness, the ethanol industry has sponsored an entry in the IndyCar Series since 2005. This season, the industry will sponsor the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda-powered Panoz driven by Paul Dana.

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The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition opens with the Miami 100 at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Dana , Brian Barnhart