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Guest Editorial: Ethanol Fuels Innovation at Indy
by Terry Angstadt

The IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have always been about speed and innovation, and ethanol is about innovation.

The Indy Car Series – the cutting-edge leader in motorsports safety and technology – was the first auto racing series to utilize ethanol, putting it at the forefront of the thrust for renewable and environmentally responsible fuel.

The IndyCar Series first embraced a renewable fuel in 2006, requiring all of its competitors to use a blend of 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol, in preparation to a move to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2007. The IndyCar Series will continue to use 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2009, which is denatured with 2 percent gasoline, and for the third consecutive year will be the only motorsports property to have 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol powering its Honda Indy V8 engines.

From the beginning, the message shared by the ethanol industry and us was that ethanol not only was an ideal solution for high-performance IndyCar Series cars, but that consumers could expect improved performance and environmental benefits as well with ethanol-enriched fuel.

Now with our partnership with APEX-Brasil, the message becomes worldwide: What can we do to help the United States and Brazil – who together account for 72 percent of global ethanol production and consumption – communicate the many options in which ethanol can be produced and to enhance its position as a global commodity?

A multi-year agreement between APEX-Brasil, Brazil’s official trade agency, and the IndyCar Series encompasses energy, promotion, and trade between Brazil and the United States involving 65 business sectors ranging from agriculture to health and technology.

The partnership includes cooperation from UNICA (the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) to identify those interested in supplying ethanol to the series. Initially, UNICA has suggested that the IndyCar Series partner with a domestic producer before transitioning to a potential blend of domestic and Brazilian ethanol.

One of the primary messages of the partnership is that regardless of the sources – corn, sugar cane, or cellulosic materials in the future – the end product is a clean, renewable biofuel that reduces dependence on fossil fuels and combats one of the major causes of climate change.

During our recent manufacturer roundtables – the IndyCar Series is in active talks with Honda, Volkswagen, Porsche, Fiat, and Audi about adding engine manufacturer competition to the series as early as 2011 – the participating engine companies were enthusiastic about our potential use of various sources of ethanol.

A lot of people thought that we woke up one day and decided to run down to Brazil and make a fuel deal. We had been in very close communication with our ethanol partner domestically, and because of the challenges of that industry they said their support would be much less (in 2009) if none at all. We weren't going to change fuels, and about the same time our agents in Brazil said that with the strength and history of ethanol in that market they have an idea. They developed a concept. We said we don't want anything contentious and we want a long-term approach. If ethanol doesn't become a commodity, if it doesn't expand beyond two countries, really making an industry out of it, it's really never going to be a really big deal.

Significant activation, including television advertising, along with mobile marketing and hospitality units at race venues, will allow the IndyCar Series in partnership with APEX-Brasil to play a part to help ethanol to attain commodity status as well as fulfill its vital objectives: to help provide energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our partnership with APEX-Brasil has the support of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and State and together, all of us, including the entire ethanol industry in this country, can work together to build ethanol as a true worldwide commodity.

 
© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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