When the 2007 IndyCar Series season starts up with the Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Saturday, the new Honda engines in the race cars will be running on 100% ethanol for the first time. All 17 races on the 2007 schedule, including the Indianapolis 500, will be run on ethanol.
The 2007 season is the Honda’s second as the sole engine provider, and the first for E100 as the fuel. The new Honda HI7R Indy V-8 engine features increased displacement (from 3.0 to 3.5 liters) compared to the 2006 HI6R, which ran on a methanol/ethanol blend.
Honda increased the displacement by changing the crankshaft and connecting rods on the older engine, but kept all other major components the same. Fuel injectors, lines and seals are ethanol compatible, and Honda modified the ECU settings for E100. The new engine provides significantly increased torque and mid-range power.
Compared to methanol, ethanol has a higher octane rating (113 to 107), a higher flash point (55.4º F to 52º F) and a larger energy content (77,000 BTU per gallon to 64,250 BTU per gallon). Drivers’ reactions have been enthusiastic.
The IndyCar Series jump to ethanol has been great. We are definitely on the right path with ethanol. There is more power with the new [3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8] engine. It runs clean and it is better for the environment. So it is a win-win situation, and that is great for the series. Ethanol is another alternative to gasoline. If we can show that the IndyCar Series cars can run ethanol, then it is good for everyone’s street cars.—Tony Kanaan, 2004 champion
Renova Energy in Torrington, Wyo., produces the ethanol for the IndyCar Series. The Torrington plant now produces 12 million gallons of ethanol annually. A new plant in Heyburn, Idaho, scheduled to open in the fall of 2007, will produce another 20 million gallons of fuel. The Heyburn site will use an anaerobic digester to produce biogas for heat and power generation. A second Torrington facility with 40-60 million gallon per year capacity is also under consideration.
The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has been fine tuning its first-ever national marketing campaign around a partnership with the IndyCar Series. As part of its marketing activation EPIC has created a mobile marketing unit that will travel to IndyCar Series events in 2007 and will be located in each track’s midway area.
In addition to other activities, EPIC will continue with its Pump Tours, allowing consumers to buy E10 fuel in race markets at a reduced price.