TORRINGTON, Wyo. -- The tanker truck left the Renova Energy plant with little fanfare. Trucks come and go at the plant daily. But this cargo was unique. The tanker carried the first shipment of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol which will power the IndyCar(R) Series, the first in motorsports to embrace a renewable fuel source, in 2007.

The series will hold its first Open Test of the season at Daytona International Speedway Jan. 31-Feb. 1, where for the first time all IndyCar Series cars will run on the 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol.

"I'm proud to be a part of the most significant fuel change in open wheel racing in 40 years," said Dan Schwartzkopf, senior vice-president of Renova Energy. "This is a groundbreaking achievement."

The Torrington, Wyo., facility was contracted by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council to supply approximately 120,000 gallons of the fuel to the IndyCar Series. Renova Energy currently produces 10 million gallons of ethanol a year, with new construction planned for a 20-million-gallon plant in Heyburn, Idaho.

The fuel from Torrington will be shipped to Indianapolis and stored at Superior Solvents and Chemicals, which can store up to 30,000 gallons. Superior's highly trained staff of chemists and technicians will be responsible for loading all tanker trailers and distributing the fuel to each IndyCar Series Open Test and race events during the season.
Tom Slunecka, executive director of EPIC, believes the fuel switch has far-reaching implications.

"Ethanol is not only an ideal solution for high performance IndyCar Series cars, but consumers can expect improved performance and environmental benefits as well with ethanol-enriched fuel," said Slunecka. "From the speedway to Main Street, the partnership between the ethanol industry and the Indy Racing League will deliver stunning results."

Extensive testing of the fuel in the new 3.5 liter Honda Indy V-8 engine has yielded impressive results, reports Les Mactaggart, senior technical director for the IndyCar Series.

"Backed by an experienced group of engineers and technicians," Mactaggart said, "the transition has been flawless."

The long-term message is clear: If 650-horsepower IndyCar Series cars that cover the length of a football field in 1 second can run safely and effectively on 100-percent fuel-grade ethanol, so can a passenger vehicle (either 90 percent gasoline/10 percent ethanol blend or an E85 vehicle) with reduced emissions as an add-on benefit.

The 17-race IndyCar Series season opens March 24 under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The schedule runs through September, with the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.
Ethanol is a 100 percent renewable fuel, distilled from high-starch crops, primarily corn in the United States. By the end of 2007, nearly 140 plants will be producing approximately seven billion gallons of ethanol.

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  • SOURCE: Ethanol Promotion and Information Council via PR Newswire.