Yet I can hardly wait until 1 o’clock on Sunday, when the Indy 500 is scheduled to begin. Just about every corn farmer I know is equally excited.
Drivers will compete to win the 91st running of the Indy 500. And for the first time ever, their vehicles will be powered by corn: They’re using 100-percent fuel-grade ethanol.
If ethanol is good enough for the most famous auto race in the world, shouldn’t it also be good enough for your commute to work? Granted, you may not need to drive 219 mph – the qualifying time of the slowest car in the Indy 500’s 33-vehicle field.
There are still drivers who worry about the effectiveness of ethanol. Here in Iowa, more than 75 percent of our drivers choose it. Only recently, however, have people in other parts of the country started to think about ethanol as a product that they might routinely pump into their vehicles. The reality is that ethanol has a very high octane rating.
Team Ethanol got involved in auto racing to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol. Around the world, some 300 million people watch the Indy 500. Two years ago, Team Ethanol sponsored an Indy car. Last year, every Indy car ran on a fuel blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent methanol.
This year, however, is a turning point: Every drop of fuel in the gas tank of every Indy 500 racer will come from corn. That’s also true for all 17 races in this season’s Indy Car Series, which started in March and concludes in September.
On June 24, the Indy cars will come to the heart of corn country, for a race at the new Iowa Speedway in Newton, the Iowa Corn Indy 250.
There’s simply no way the world’s greatest drivers would accept a second-rate fuel.
Team Ethanol’s ambitions don’t stop with the Indy Car Series. The Indy Racing League also sponsors a drag racer, which can hit speeds of 325 mph. No other motor sports entity has progressed as far as the Indy Car Series in ethanol usage. In time, however, they may.
So will the American public. They’ll think about ethanol this Sunday, when they watch the Indy 500. They’ll think about it even more as we head into the summer driving season, with fuel prices topping $3 per gallon.
TIM RECKER of Arlington grows corn and soybeans on his farm. He’s an ethanol user and racing enthusiast.