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IndyCar Series with 100% Ethanol and New Honda Engines Is About to Start

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.



Honda's F1 earth-themed car is a massive success:


Honda makes a racing V8 but no production V8. How dumb is that.


Honda has one of the best MPG figures among the car companies. They sell plenty of Pilots with a 244 hp V6, I would guess that they do not think that they need a V8 in their lineup.


Honda V8... LOL


If ethanol has a higher octane and greater BTU content then why did Honda also increase the displacement? It would seem that if you are trying to promote conservatism then you would go smaller, not bigger.


What are you talking about? If Honda was trying to promote "conservatism", they wouldn't be going racing. Engine displacement is in no way related to fuel economy.

tom deplume

The way displacement effects mileage is at idle. Sitting in a traffic jam a large engine will use more fuel than a small engine. I'm old enough to remember when a 3.5 liter engine was tiny.


Empirically to me, it seems like there is a non-linear relationship. I can not think of a 5 liter V8 that gets as good mileage as a 2.5 liter inline 4, given the same acceleration, around town and highway speeds. Look at a Nissan Altima or Toyota Camry V6 versus I4 and with about the same curb weight, the EPA mileage estimates show the V6 gets less miles per gallon. In real world figures, this is true also. You could probably debate all day with no resoultion as to the factors involved in this result, but displacement looks like it may be one of them.


This is racing. It's unrelated to reality, and long obsolete. It should have died with the Gladiators.

Tammy Grubert

The Angel's are helping us now. Stop Global Warming.


Actually, displacement is not always adverse to MPG. GM proved that long ago with their 3800 series V6 (3.8 ltr.)compared to their 3.1 & 3.4 ltr. V6 engines. The 3800 would deliver 30 MPG highway in a fullsize sedan.
As far as racing not being reality - if it wasn't for racing - we wouldn't be enjoying the economy/horsepower provided by the electronic fuel injection and highly balanced engines we have on the road today. The 3800 series engine was developed by Buick for Indy racing.


The good old boys at NASCAR should follow suit and use "moonshine" to power their cars too.


"The good old boys at NASCAR should follow suit and use "moonshine" to power their cars too."

Good idea! I wonder if they'll ever figure out how to turn the steering wheel to the right?


Hey everybody! Motorsports is great! And hey! It would be great if everyone ran after each other and even over what looks like a cliff up ahead!

Bob Bastard

"Honda makes a racing V8 but no production V8. How dumb is that."
Not dumb at all considering they have a normally aspirated 2.0 liter 4-cylinder production engine that puts out 240hp. Modern light duty vehicles no longer need anything bigger than a 4 cylinder- especially if hybrid tech is used.

Bob Bastard

Wells, Motorsports is not the problem. Our everyday driving habits are.


"Not dumb at all considering they have a normally aspirated 2.0 liter 4-cylinder production engine that puts out 240hp."

Too bad that 240 hp 2.0 and (2.2 on the newer ones) S2000 gets has worse fuel economy than a 400hp 6.0 liter V8 corvette.
S2000 20 mpg / 25 mpg = 22.5 mpg average
Corvette 18 mpg / 28 mpg = 23 mpg average

Theres no replacement for displacement.


Finally, Indy cures global warming.

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