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Racers say ethanol is one cool track fuel - Kearney Hub: Opinion

Hub Opinion Racers say ethanol is one cool track fuel

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Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012 7:00 am

What is the best way to counter ethanol’s naysayers? How about throttling up race car engines to drown out the critics’ pessimism about the clean, renewable energy source?

Ethanol is one cool fuel, and that’s worth roaring about.

As race fans are seeing, ethanol is growing in popularity around the track, where competitors appreciate the homegrown fuel’s high octane and its ability to produce lots of power without generating engine-damaging heat.

Indy cars, NASCAR, Sprint Cars, boat racers and drag racers all are burning more ethanol, and why not? With $100,000 and more invested in many of the engines powering their vehicles, racers aren’t about to scrimp on protection. They select the best motor oil and the best fuel to prevent the premature demise of their super-expensive power plants.

Ethanol shines in a number of ways at the racetrack. Because it’s high octane, ethanol ignites in combustion chambers when it’s supposed to. That saves jarring wear and tear on engine parts. And because it burns cooler, it reduces concerns about heat damage.

Heat ruins engines. That’s true on main street and on the interstate, but it’s especially true at the track, where engines consume great volumes of fuel and can produce enormous amounts of heat.

When they burn ethanol, racers find it’s much easier to manage the heat their engines produce. Drag racers that suck down several gallons of fuel in just a quarter mile can push their cooling systems past the safety point, but not with ethanol.

Racers might redline their engines, but they’re not redlining their cooling systems because ethanol is one cool fuel.

Go to the races

Still have doubts about ethanol in your vehicle? You can witness ethanol’s benefits on the racetrack on Oct. 6-7 at Kearney Raceway Park during the second-annual NHRA Ethanol National Open. The inaugural event in 2011 attracted some of the nation’s top drag cars and showcased ethanol as a high-performance fuel.

This year, a team of muscle car drivers from Indianapolis will return to sprint down the KRP quarter mile in nine seconds and 170 mph. The Ethanol National Open will showcase other Midwest drivers and their vehicles burning E-85 and remind race fans that some of the best fuel gets its start in our nation’s cornfields.

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