Word out this weekend from Fox Sports is that NASCAR is going green by 2011 -- well, in its fuel, at least.
Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Yates engines are testing a fuel called E15. It's 15 percent ethanol ("E15," get it? Catchy!) and 85 percent good old-fashioned dead-dino gasoline.
Change is slow to come in NASCAR's fuel matters. NASCAR only switched to unleaded in 2007, and fuel injection is only just now coming to fruition. That may arrive in 2011, or it may not; teams have said that the greener fuel is taking precedence over fuel injection development.
With NASCAR rides, it's not as simple as just pulling up to a different pump. The many moving parts in an engine will react differently to ethanol than to gasoline. And while the horsepower should remain the same, the amount of ethanol required will be greater. Fox Sports estimates that teams will get an average of four to five miles less per full tank with the ethanol. In other words, lazy crew chiefs are going to find their guys running out of gas ten laps earlier than expected at Bristol.
One potential sticking point is the involvement of Sunoco, which signed a contract in 2003 to be NASCAR's official fuel provider. Questions remain about the extent of Sunoco's involvement under a new ethanol-oriented fuel mixture.
Oh, and don't worry. No Priuses coming to NASCAR tracks next year. That's not scheduled until 2013, right before the Chinese take over.
NASCAR sets sights on E15 use by 2011 [Fox Sports]