NASCAR and American Ethanol start partnership

Thursday, December 2, 2010 | 6:52 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – This is for all the kids who won’t eat their vegetables: Corn is for race cars now.

NASCAR and Growth Energy’s new organization, American Ethanol, announced a partnership Thursday at NASCAR Champions Week in Las Vegas. The event was simulcast at the Walters-Boone County Museum for representatives of the Missouri ethanol industry. 

Ethanol partners across the nation watched the event at gatherings in 15 key locations to hear the official news. By 2011, NASCAR will be using Sunoco Green E15 fuel in all of its cars.

John Eggleston, president of the Poet Biorefining ethanol plant in Macon, said the deal is all about getting the message heard — ethanol matters. “As the message gets stronger, more people will see how important ethanol is,” he said.

Gasoline in Missouri can contain up to 10 percent ethanol, and because of the six ethanol refineries in the state, Missouri’s industry grosses about $700 million per year, Eggleston said. And all of those refineries are farmer-owned.

“This is a big deal,” said Steve Burnett, general manager of the Macon plant. Burnett said there are 204 ethanol refineries in the U.S., and they all sprang up in the past 15 years. The plant in Macon was the first in Missouri.

Ethanol gives hope to an end of the transfer of U.S. wealth to foreign nations for fuel, Burnett said. “We’re displacing oil that’s shipped here from overseas,” Burnett said.

Since NASCAR commands such a large fan base, it was an obvious choice as a platform for ethanol’s message.

American Ethanol will become a fully integrated part of NASCAR starting with Daytona in 2011 in four ways:

  • NASCAR’s green flag will sport both American Ethanol and NASCAR Green symbols.
  • A new, American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award will be presented to the driver with the fastest average speed on restarts per race.
  • An American Ethanol decal will be on all cars’ fuel ports.
  • American ethanol will have presenting sponsorship of the NASCAR Green Summit.

Columbia resident and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards was in Las Vegas for the event and personally unveiled the fuel port decal.

Burnett said he was excited for the future of ethanol. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is to put out the information.”

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