RFA: IndyCar Needs to Rethink Brazilian Ethanol Decision

November 20, 2008 06:00 PM
Pro Farmer Editors



Responding to news the U.S. based IndyCar Series soon will be powered with Brazilian sugar can ethanol, rather than American corn-based ethanol, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is urging the race league to rethink their decision. In a letter to Indy Racing League (IRL) president, Terry Angstadt, RFA president Bob Dinneen implored the IRL to at least ensure that the Indianapolis 500 be run on American homegrown ethanol and suggested the league need look no further than the network of ethanol producers in the state of Indiana.

Following is the letter:

Dear Mr. Angstadt:
On behalf of America's ethanol producers, I want to express my deep displeasure in the Indy Racing League's decision to abandon homegrown ethanol as the league's official fuel. How can you run the Indianapolis 500, a race so imbedded in the culture of this nation, on an imported fuel?

For almost 100 years, the Indianapolis 500 has been a showcase for cutting edge vehicle technology. Held on Memorial Day, it has also come to be a time-honored event that serves to thoughtfully pay tribute to those Americans who gave their lives protecting our freedoms. The decision to bypass the more than 180 ethanol biorefineries across our country in favor of a tanker ship from Sao Paulo to be the official supplier of fuel for the IRL is an affront to America's farmers who have worked to enhance economic opportunities for rural communities and all Americans who have fought and are fighting for our energy independence.

We understand your view that all ethanol, no matter the source, will have valuable environmental benefits. But ignoring the energy independence potential that is derived only from American ethanol dismisses a fundamental rationale underpinning public support for renewable fuels. While you have adopted a "global” view, there are many American suppliers that would have greatly appreciated the opportunity to be the official fuel supplier for the IndyCar Series. In fact, with the expansion of ethanol production into more diverse geographic regions of the country, I have every confidence that the IRL could have a local ethanol producer supply fuel to virtually every one of its races across the country. Instead, the league has chosen to use ethanol that must be shipped thousands of miles from a country in which the IRL does not hold a single race. At a time when the US economy is faltering and America is seeking to maximize ethanol use, your decision to engage Brazilian ethanol producers is even more perplexing.

It is our understanding that an exception has been made to allow the Iowa Corn 250, held in June in Newton, Iowa, to run on homegrown ethanol as a result of the hard work of the network of ethanol producers and suppliers in the state. This simply underscores the fact that American ethanol is available if the league is committed to supporting a homegrown energy source.

On behalf of America's ethanol producers, I strongly urge the IRL to reconsider its decision. At a minimum, you should use America's homegrown renewable fuel to power the Indianapolis 500. As in Iowa, I am quite certain that the network of ethanol producers in the state of Indiana stand at the ready to supply the race with the fuel it needs.

The relationship between American ethanol producers and America's premiere open wheel racing league was the direct result of the vision of former Indy car driver Paul Dana. Paul's leadership resulted in a relationship in which our industry has taken great pride. It is disappointing that a greater effort was not made to continue this relationship. I sincerely hope that you reconsider your decision. And let me assure you that the Renewable Fuels Association stands ready to assist you in any way.

I look forward to hearing your response and trying to find a way to continue this mutually rewarding relationship.


Bob Dinneen, President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association

Cc: Tony George, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President



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