NASCAR's green efforts have taken a big step after officials announced the use of E15 fuel from the start of the 2011 season.
Starting with next year's season-opening events at Daytona, all NASCAR national series will run on Sunoco Green E15, a 15 per cent ethanol blend, which has already been tested extensively by engine builders.
The sanctioning body only implemented unleaded fuel as recently as 2008, with Sunoco's 260 GTX 98-Octone gasoline, following a partnership between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the official fuel supplier.
This next step takes NASCAR further ahead in its environmental aims and also makes it more aligned with the trends of the auto industry.
"NASCAR is committed to being an environmental leader, and the sport has taken significant steps over the years toward conservation by introducing measurable, best-in-class initiatives in recycling, alternative energy, and carbon mitigation," said NASCAR's chairman and CEO Brian France.
"The transition to Sunoco Green E15 takes our long-term sustainability strategy to the next level. Sunoco Green E15 is good for racing, good for the environment and good for America. While fueling the same close, door-to-door racing that thrills our fans, American ethanol creates jobs in the United States, helps foster energy independence, and continues the greening of our sport."
The new biofuel will be blended at Sunoco's fuel facility in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, while the ethanol will come from a plant in Fulton, New York, which is owned by Sunoco. The biofuel will be pumped directly from tankers at the track, rather than the underground storage tanks currently used.
"We're proud to be part of NASCAR's dedication to conservation with Sunoco Green E15 - the ultimate high-test ethanol fuel blend," said Sunoco's senior vice president Bob Owens. "In our six years as official fuel partner, Sunoco has changed with the times by helping NASCAR transition to unleaded fuel, and now we are eager to produce for the sport a high-performance ethanol blend."
Testing has already shown the expected cleaner burn with the new fuel, while dyno testing has also proved increased horsepower. Officials expect a seamless transition to the new fuel next year.
"The testing has been going on at the track and test facilities," said NASCAR's vice president for competition Robin Pemberton. "Teams have also been able to run [E15 fuel] at a few tyre tests so far this year with great results. All drivers like more power so they had smiles on their faces for that. We're pleased with everything and the dyno work will continue."
NASCAR's next technological step is expected to be the implementation of fuel injection, which has been in the works for some time already and could happen as early as next season.