Fuel Mileage Races Healthy For The Sport? What Needs To Be Changed?

by Ryan O'Hara On Sun, Jul. 31, 2011

NASCAR like all sports in the world has many flaws and they need to be addressed. My first question to my viewers is this, Are fuel mileage races healthy for the sport? I would like to hear your opinion on that later.

I have been receiving a lot of angry letters from fans all over about the extremity of fuel mileage races especially this season. Now, why do you think that is?

[media-credit id=66 align=”alignright” width=”251″][/media-credit]I have an answer for you and it’s going to make every single corn farmer involved in this deal angry and it is ethanol. Now, what is ethanol? It is corn. This corn is turned into fuel through industrial fermentation, chemical processing, and distillation and is the main feedstock used for producing ethanol fuel in the United States, but it is mostly used as an oxygenate in the form of low-level blends because a full blend of this corn ethanol wouldn’t work.

Using ethanol to fuel these race cars is only making food prices skyrocket. Kenny Wallace doesn’t seem to understand that, but I can sympathize with him because American Ethanol is his sponsor and he is trying his absolute best to promote a complete waste of money. For those of you who have studied economics this is simple supply and demand. It is quite a simple concept. If you have low supply but a high demand, then prices go up. There is a low supply of corn because the federal government is converting it to fuel that is why prices are so darn high.

Ethanol also doesn’t get as much mileage as gas along with the incredible amount of corn needed to produce 1 gallon of fuel. Did you know that each gallon of ethanol needs over 1,700 gallons of water? That is mostly for growing the corn! This also leads to soil erosion and produces about 6 to 12 gallons of noxious organic effluent. Yeah. Not good.

The state of Minnesota found out how unreliable it was the hard way. In January of 2008, Minnesota forced all of their public school buses to use full blown ethanol. There was no blend. Well these geniuses back in Minnesota didn’t do enough research to realize this stuff turns into a gel when it freezes. Hello!! This is Minnesota in January!! The buses couldn’t start and many young kids were treated for hypothermia all across the state. And I forgot to mention over 26 pounds of corn is needed to produce 1 gallon of this crap.

Now, this controversy has carried over into my sport and it’s not making me happy. Unlike regular gas that we should be drilling for, ethanol has an expiration date like a gallon of milk. It cannot stay in a tank forever. So, all of this stuff you hear about ethanol being the next generation changer is absolute bull. Thankfully for NASCAR, they burn the fuel during the race so they don’t have to care, but what races have been affected by this change and by bad calls in general?

The Budweiser Shootout was the first race and right off the bat we had a bad call by giving the win to Kurt Busch. Denny Hamlin according to photos dipped below the yellow line just after taking the lead from Ryan Newman to avoid a wreck and it was wrong taking that win away from him. Like I have said in the past, more consistency would be nice.

Daytona and Talladega have perhaps turn into the biggest jokes in the sport. The two-by-two tango crap is not racing! It’s follow the leader until someone else wants to be the speeder. It may have produced a .002 finish between Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, but that is not racing.

The fuel controversy has also affected which driver should really win the race. We saw Kevin Harvick win the Coca Cola 600 this past May. Who had the best car that day? Matt Kenseth. He had fuel issues like many drivers and we had a ‘surprise’ winner. Well, I like many fans are sick of these ‘surprises.’ I just want to see the best car win, but a lot of times now it’s a random driver the next time.

In Kansas, Kurt Busch was the class of the field, but had fuel issues. Your surprise winner is Brad Keselowski. Today at Indy, the two best cars were Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon. Paul Menard won his first career race. The longer your fuel stretches also depends when you buy the fuel because like I said, it has an expiration.

Congratulations to Menard on his first win, but I call on NASCAR to go back to regular gas! It’s more reliable and less expensive. If you ask any corn farmer that is apart of this NASCAR package, they will tell you how magnificent their stuff is. Well, no kidding. They are getting money off this ya know? I like surprises every now and then fans, but when it is happening every week because of the fuel we are using, can we please return to decency?

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Displaying 11 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Craig Counsell says:

    O’Hara is right on. Bob Moffitt is unaware of what is happening in his own state…Bob Ryans point was from 2008, your state just recently added the diesel engines.

    Nice try though.

  2. Bill B says:

    Roberta,
    First I will point out that in my original post I didn’t even address the ethanol part of the deal. I’m not sure who to believe but it’s not something I feel strongly about one way or the other.
    I do have to say that if you aren’t getting paid as PR rep by the ethanol industry then you may want to shoot a resume out to them.

  3. Roberta Cowan says:

    Ethanol has been in every gallon of fuel sold in the US since 2000 according to the department of transportation. It is used as a detergent additive that prevents the build up of deposits in EFI cars. It also decreases the amount of harmful emissions released into the air.

    Ethanol production has utilized 20 percent of the domestic corn crop since 2007. However, it is utilizes mostly the bio waste from the corn product. Bio waste is considered, cobbs, stalks, shucks, and silk. It is accompanied by other bio mass such as rice straw, wheat straw, switch grass, vegetable and forest wastes and other organic materials.

    The US manufactures approximately 3.0 billion barrels of ethanol. For every barrel of Ethanol that is utilized we offset use of 1.2 barrels of petroleum. According to the EPA. NASCAR’s use of Ethanol was not expected to raise this significantly in November of last year according to the American Council of Farmers.

    The Ethanol that is utilized by Sunoco in it’s E15, which is the fuel used by NASCAR, is entirely US produced. Indy Car racing which went to Ethanol in a E85 concentration in 2007 uses a Sugar Cane based Ethanol that is imported from Brazil. (Note the 15 % remaining in the Indy fuel is not High test or 260 GTX. It is Methanol.)

    Ethanol based fuels are ideally delivered through EFI systems because of their flammability. Because NASCAR does not yet utilize EFI on it’s cars the Ethanol is delivered by standard carburetion. Because of this delivery method we see an increase in fuel usage. We also see an increase in horsepower output. In 2012 when the series changes to EFI the fuel mileage should stabilize and return to more of what we are use to seeing. According to Danny Lawerence of ECR engines.

    I am the first to agree that I don’t like fuel mileage races. But it is a growing pain that the sport is going through to take the next step in it’s growth. That step is EFI. EFI will bring better mileage and increased horsepower to the cars according to General Motors Performance Engineers.

    Mr. Ohare’s evaluation of Ethanol based fuel contains many inconsistencies and misinformed facts. I call on him to go back and do the research. The information is available from the EPA and the Department of Transportation on line. It is also available from Sunco and the American Corn Growers of America.

    I have no issues with someone not liking the Ethanol change regardless of the fact that it brings Nascar up to date with the world around it if their facts are correct. But lets base our decision and opinions on accurate facts.

    To attribute all of the current problems within the sport to the use of Ethanol fuel is unrealistic. Especially when you take into consideration that current street fuel is 10% ethanol in most cases. Read the pump the next time you fill up. It tells you right on the pump that the fuel contains ethanol as a detergent. Nascar uses a 15% mix only slightly higher than street legal fuel. Although it shows a commitment to the enviroment and the American Farmers it is a very very small step up from street legal percentages.

    There are many resources for fans to consult including ones on this site to find accurate information before making their decisions and forming their opinions. I would encourage them to utilize those resources before forming an opinion.

    • B. says:

      …But you’re totally unbiased and just happened to have all those handy “facts” from totally unbiased resources like the EPA (hows their latest fuel mileage ratings composed again?) or Government – I mean, ‘General’ Motors on the tip of your tongue… right? Totally unbiased…

      Look, you may think NASCAR fans are just a bunch of dumb rednecks watching cars go in circles, but, please, don’t treat us like we’re stupid.

      …And here’s a heads up, “Roberta”, the next forum or blog you head to in order to “enlighten” the viewing public with all your “information”, why not just sign your name ‘industry shill’ so you can save people the time finding it out themselves about 2 lines into your first paragraph. Us racecar fans need to save our eyes for all those unending left turns. You understand, right?

      Thanks.
      Sincerely,
      Bubba McEthanolIsAnObviousLoadO’Crap :)

  4. GARY HEIL says:

    .52 cents a gallon is government subsidized, so what the heck is good about that ? any time we talk about gas mileage at a race it is a stinking bad boring race and i have been watching and going to races for years.

  5. Bob Moffitt says:

    Mr. O’Hare: Your information about school buses in Minnesota running on ethanol is completely wrong. Our school buses have diesel engines.

    You are no doubt thinking of a incident that happened a couple years ago when biodiesel was blamed for a few school buses (all the same model) wouldn’t start on a sub-zero day.

    Guess what? It wasn’t the biodiesel.

    http://www.startribune.com/opinion/39401032.html

  6. Alyssa Wessinger says:

    The race was total BS. NASCAR manufactured fake debris yellows and practically gave the win to Menard and his billionaire father. Gordon should have won the race. Heck, Gordon almost won despite NASCAR’s antics.

    Now, to the ethanol problem. Jesse is full of bull. Ryan is right here. At least 26 pounds of corn is needed to produce 1 gallon and is it really producing “American” jobs if we are importing from Brazil? Yeah dude…

    Actual unemployment around 22%. Yup that explains a lot. Ryan, you are my hero. Marry me.

  7. Leslie Adams says:

    Jesse, really? One bushel produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol? And how many bushels will you need? You have a population of over 311 million people in the U.S. You are going to need a lot of corn, which means importing from other countries… yeah not independent at all.

  8. Ryan Stewart says:

    Jesse, where are you getting your information because the EPA is where Ryan’s information came from. Perhaps you need to read more?

    And I noticed a lot of phantom debris cautions yesterday… but of course when the 24 was chasing them all down they didn’t call one.

    NASCAR has something against the 24.

  9. jesse johnson says:

    I have to clear up some of the misconceptions you’re spreading. First off, ethanol does not take 1,700 gallons of water per gallon. That’s simply a bloated lie.
    One bushel of corn produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 18 lbs of dried distillers grain (a high protein livestock feed that can be fed to cattle, hogs, poultry and aquaculture) and corn oil which can be made into biodiesel.
    Ethanol production has a 2.3 to 1 net energy gain. According to the EPA.
    13 gallons of ethanol are produced for every gallon of petroleum used in its’ entire cycle. According to the University of Nebraska.
    Ethanol is helping the U.S. lessen its dependence on foregin oil as in the pas five years, foreign oil in our fuel supply has decreased from 60 to 50% according to the US DOE.
    Ethanol also creates hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

  10. Bill B says:

    To answer your question; No. As a rule I don’t like fuel mileage races. 3 or 4 a year are OK but any more than that is too much.

    As far as I’m concerned this is just another factor that has turned the races into crapshoots. I too would like the best car to win most weeks and for drivers to, for the most part, get the finish they deserve based on how they ran for the duration of the race. However, NASCAR has consistenly enacted rules and changes that lessen the probability that the best car will win and raise the probabilty that a surprise winner will emerge.
    COT – drivers can not pass due to aero issues so that leads to unconvential pit strategies to gain track position.
    Tires- they don’t wear as much so that also leads to gambles, staying out, gas only or two tires
    Double file restarts – nothing like seeing the top cars get shuffled back if they pick the wrong lane of guys in front of them that are slower.
    Wave arounds – guys fall off the lead lap early on and in the past they wouldn’t be in contention to win in the final laps. It’s never been easier to get a lap back and with all those cars still on the lead lap at the end combined with the above factors and the fastest car now has to deal with 30 cars instead of 15 cars.
    Bogus cautions – every time a caution comes out it allows opportunities for those without good cars to take a gamble at the expense of those with the best cars.

    So it’s no surprise that more weeks than not the guy with the fastest cars are not getting the finishes they deserve. NASCAR is trying to cater to the reality television crowd more than the sport crowd. The current rules tip the scales against the guy with the best car winning the race in the name of an “exciting” and “unpredictable” manufactured ending.

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