Scott Dixon’s Got Milk at 92nd Indy 500

Scott Dixon celebrates his win in Victory Circle for the 92nd Indy 500In a race down to the pits, No. 9 Target Driver Scott Dixon with Chip Ganassi Racing sped past Vitor Meira during the final pit stop during a yellow to take the win at the Brickyard. Reporters commented on the look of shock on Scott’s face at winners circle and Scott confirmed that he was a bit shocked.

“It’s almost like you’re in a dreamland,” Scott said. “It was quite crazy. You know it’s something where you expect somebody to pinch you and you wake up and you’re just sort of asleep in your bed back at home. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Scott’s win is the first Indy 500 win to come after the reunification of the IndyCar Series and the Champ Series. The series split 12 years ago in 1995 and finally merged again this year. Scott said the reunification certainly means the talent pool for this year’s race was a bit deeper, but he says the real competition will come next year when the former Champ Series teams will have had a year to make adjustments.

Scott said his day started off right with his a good night’s rest and his wife’s pancakes for breakfast. He did admit he was a bit anxious going into the race. Scott said the entire month went pointedly smooth with his car and his crew and he didn’t want to see something like a poor pit stop slow his momentum. Scott, who won the IndyCar Series Championship in 2003, said this was his biggest IndyCar win to date.

Scott Dixon celebrates his win in Victory Circle for the 92nd Indy 500“This is much more sweeter because it comes, you know, you work three weeks solidly and it comes down to one day to get it and have everything fall into place. It’s quite special,” Scott said.

Scott averaged a speed of 143.567 mph during the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and led for the last 29 laps of the race, the longest racing stretch all day.

The race was marked with eight yellow flags and that meant drivers didn’t pit once during a green. That took the pit pressure off the runner-up Vitor Miera. Vitor, who drives the N. 4 car for Panther racing finished second with an average lap speed of 143.547.

Marco Andretti, who drives the the No. 26 car for Andretti Green Racing, finished third with an average lap time of 143.541.

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay called it before the race. In a speech before EPIC members Saturday night he said the Ganassi cars would be the biggest competitors out on the track at the Brickyard. Ryan was just shy of a top five finish and came in 6th at the Indianapolis 500. Ryan was the top finishing rookie at the race and the 6th place finish marks Team Ethanol’s best Indy 500 finish to date.

When asked about Scott’s win, Ryan said “It’s nice to see the fastest car out there win.”

You can listen to audio from the press conference with Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi and Target Team Managing Director Mike Hull here:


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

An EPIC Salute at Indy 500

EPIC members salute troops and honor Dancing with the Stars' Julianne Hough's national anthemMembers of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council stood at attention just before the start of the Indy 500. Members clutched Team Ethanol hats to their chest during the salute to troops, a rendition of “God Bless America” and Julianne Hough’s version of the National Anthem. Julianne is a professional dancer who has appeared on “Dancing with the Stars”. She’s a two-time “Dancing with the Stars” winner. Her most recent win came last year with partner Helio Castroneves, an IndyCar Driver for the IRL. Helio is racing in the No. 3 IndyCar with Penske Racing. Right now the race is under its fourth caution. Helio is at position 14. Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay has broken into the top 10 and holds position nine.


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Ethanol and Racing at 92nd Indy 500

EPIC members applaud at the start of the 92nd Indy 500Ethanol isn’t just out on the track, but also in parking lots and parked in the infield at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, IN. And that’s something VeraSun CEO Don Endres (not pictured) is happy to see. Don is up in the Team Ethanol suite watching the 92nd Indy 500 with a few dozen other EPIC members as we speak. Just before the race I caught up with Don to talk about the success, challenges and future of ethanol over the past year with ethanol being showcased in the Indy Racing League. Don says he believes the ethanol industry is on the verge of a revolution with both starch-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. He adds that cellulosic ethanol should be a commercially viable option for the fuel industry in three to five years.

You can listen to my interview with Don here:

I also spoke with Jeff Broin (not pictured), CEO and founder of POET. He made a point to debunk claims that ethanol raises the prices of food. We also spoke about the future of ethanol production at POET, including cellulosic ethanol. Jeff wants to see more ethanol out at the pumps and says blender pumps are a big key to getting more ethanol into consumer fuel tanks.

You can listen to my interview with Jeff here:


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Yamaguchi Signals the 92nd Indy 500 Start with Green “E” for Ethanol Flag

Olympian figure skater Kristy Yamaguchi is the latest star to win the “Dancing with the Stars” competition. She’s also the latest star to signal that the race is on. Kristy flashed the green ethanol flag and the 33 competitors in the 92nd Indy 500 took off for their 200 lap run around the Brickyard. Just thirty-seven laps into the race, Graham Rahal got too high around turn 4 and smashed into the outer wall.

Keep checking back for more updates! I’ve got pre-race interviews with EPIC members Don Endres, CEO of VeraSun, and Jeff Broin, CEO and founder of POET. I’ll post them shortly.


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Indy 500 Race Fans Line Up for Ethanol

Team Ethanol IndyCar Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay autographs a hat for EPIC membersThe Ethanol tent and mobile unit display at the 92nd Indianapolis 500 is a big hit with race fans. When I dropped by there was a large crowd lined up to sign up their email address and consumer information with ethanol. Those that stopped by could also jump in the seat of a Team Ethanol IndyCar replica, play some racing videogames and pick up a tiny replica of the No. 17 car.


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

EPIC Members Get to Know Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay

Team Ethanol IndyCar Driver Ryan Hunter-ReayHe was named rookie of the year for the 2007 IRL season. Ryan is also in the running to be the Rookie of the Year for the 2008 Indy 500.

The 92nd Indianapolis 500 marks the biggest race of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s career to date. Ryan began racing for Team Ethanol last year, making his IndyCar Series debut at Mid-Ohio. That means his rookie run was seven races after last year’s Indy 500 event.

Nonetheless, Ryan set a new record when he became the 2007 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year with the fewest racing starts. The Team Ethanol driver is also in the running to be the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year since this is his first time competing at the world’s largest racing event.

Ryan spoke to members of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council Saturday evening. He told members he was honored not only to compete for Team Ethanol, but to represent ethanol in the public eye.

Ryan says he is looking to give Team Ethanol its best ever Indy 500 finish. Having spent the past month at the track, Ryan says he’s definitely comfortable going into today’s race. Though, he says, driving the 2.5 mile oval at Indy does take some getting used to, especially when going around turn one at 233 mph: “You have to have trust in the car. That’s the hardest part. And when they crash it hurts bad, you know?” Ryan was referring to his crash during Indy 500 qualifying earlier this month.

Team Ethanol IndyCar Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay autographs a hat for EPIC membersBut, he was quick to point out that when the car’s dialed in and everything is running smoothly, “It actually does feel like you’re flying low… it’s amazing those cars can do that really. Cause you don’t believe in it. Until you’re actually in the corner with 4 Gs loaded up and you get out of it.”

Ryan applauded the Team Ethanol strategy and pointed out that his pit crew has proven to be a great crew for making the car better during a race at the pit stops.

He says the biggest competitors out on the track for this year’s Indy 500 are the Ganassi cars, but he insists that he can run with the best of them. He reminded members that, after some quick fixes to the Team Ethanol car mid-race, he was the fastest car out on the track at Milwaukee.

Ryan outlined the benefits of burning ethanol on the track, like better gas mileage, smaller fuel tanks, faster speeds and improved torque. He explained that he got his start in racing through karting, which is a hobby he says he still loves.

You can listen to Ryan’s speech to EPIC members here:


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Celeb Spotting at the Indy Festival Parade

Patricia Heatong at the 2008 IPL Festival ParadeEverybody Loves Raymond fans had an exciting morning at the IPL Festival Parade today. Patricia Heaton was one of more than a dozen celebrities that appeared before parade-goers. Jenna Elfman of Dharma and Greg also starred in the parade as did Dancing with the Stars‘ Julianne Hough, 98 Degrees singer Drew Lachey, soap-opera star Alison Sweeney, Indiana Pacers players Jeff Foster and Danny Granger, Indiana Fever players Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients Corporal Tibor Rubin and Retired Lt. Col. Bruce P. Crandall, and more. Even SLASH from Guns n’ Roses rode past.

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay at the 2008 IPL Festival ParadeBut, of course ethanol fans were most excited to see Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ryan rode with his girlfriend in a 2008 Indy Pace Car corvette signed by racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi. He is starting 20th in tomorrow’s race.

By the way, Emerson was also in the parade and will be the official pace car driver for the 2008 Indy 500.


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

“E-logo” a Hit with Kids

2008 IPL Festival ParadeThe green ethanol flags were a hit with the crowd at the 2008 IPL Festival Parade, especially with the kids. Spectators could spot “e” flags waving at Monument Circle and along the parade route. Some kids were using the flags as drumsticks, beating in time to the college and high school bands that marched past. Well, keeping time in their heads at least. But, the kids weren’t the only ones eager to get there hands on one. Just as one of the brand ambassadors handed out the last flag, a woman came up demanding one for herself. She wasn’t too happy to find out there were none left!


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Promoting Ethanol at the Indy Festival Parade

2008 IPL Festival ParadeIndyCar drivers, celebs, models, Olympic gold medalists and more can all be spotted at the IPL Festival Parade. That’s a big reason why it’s such a huge event. This year was the second-straight year for a sell out crowd.

EPIC brand ambassadors at the 2008 IPL Festival ParadeThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council took advantage of the large crowds and sent brand ambassadors to the parade. Young girls sporting the “e-logo” handed out ethanol schwag including little green ethanol flags and a bag of informational brochures.


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

A Glimpse of the Team Ethanol Cockpit

EPIC members get privileged access to the Team Ethanol garage at the 2008 Indy 500EPIC members got VIP access to the Team Ethanol garage today. As part of the pre-race festivities the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council sets up early morning tours for member reps. A special pass gives members privileged access and allows them to get an up close look at Team Ethanol’s two cars. Steve Wolf pointed out the defining features of the two IndyCars and described what it’s like to be behind the wheel.

Wolf said this is the first year the IRL is using paddle shifting. Until last year, IndyCar drivers had to take one hand off the wheel in order to shift gears with a stick shift. Now, they can keep both hands on the wheel while they shift with a paddle on either side of the steering wheel.

IndyCar fuel tanks are smaller since the League switched to ethanol. Ethanol gets better mileage than the previous IRL fuel, methanol. Steve explained the League needed to make the tanks smaller so the fuel didn’t outlast the tires. The smaller tank, ultimately means less weight, allowing IndyCars to achieve higher top speeds.

Steve Wolf demonstrates the new paddle shifting features on the IndyCar steering wheel to EPIC members at the Team Ethanol garage the day before the 2008 Indy 500Steve says the pit window opens up about every 25 laps and he expects about eight to nine pits during this year’s Indy 500. Pit stops average between seven and nine seconds. Steve says the Team Ethanol pit crew is among the best in the League.

An IndyCar isn’t exaclty the most comfortable car out there to drive. Steve says the cockpit is a snug fit, with the IndyCar seat molded specifically for the driver. Ryan had to sit in the cockpit for three hours in order to get his customized seat, which Steve says is just a quarter inch thick at the bottom. Not much cushioning for a race that lasts a few hours!

Ryan will have no air conditioning in the cockpit. Steve explained the a/c was taking up too much horsepower so they had to lose it. An expected temp of 80 degrees during the race on Sunday means Team Ethanol expects it will be about 90 degrees on the track. When you consider to the fire jumpsuit Ryan will be wearing, you can imagine how hot it could get with no a/c. But, Wolf assures us that Ryan will have enough water to keep hydrated during the 200-lap race.


2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Biodiesel Boat Heading Across Pacific

If you think you’ve got a long drive this Memorial Day Weekend, check out what these travelers have ahead of them.

Earthrace, a biodiesel-powered boat trying to set a record for circling the globe on water, is somewhere between Hawaii and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. According to this story posted on Powerboat-World.com, it has not exactly been smooth sailing:

At 0400 GMT on Thursday the port engine high pressure fuel line began leaking at a joint. A bio-diesel mist filled the engine bay. Pete Bethune, the New Zealand skipper shut down the engine and Earthrace continued on the 2050 nautical mile leg with just one engine at 14-15 knots.

A liquid medal repair was attempted but after the 12 hour cure time and the port engine was brought back on line but the leak failed under the 30,000 psi.

But the Earthrace is still more than 2,000 miles ahead of schedule. In fact, if you read the latest entry on the captain’s blog, he talks about a cornflake eating contest between crew members John and Rob:

John, is halfway through his fifth bowl as well, but he looks even worse than Rob.
“Actually Rob I’m willing to concede”, he says slowly. “I’ve had enough cornflakes to last a lifetime. I just hope I make it through the night.”
Rob raises his arms in the air. “England one, USA nil”, he says triumphantly.

You can follow the Earthrace’s progress and read the captain’s blog at www.earthrace.net.

U.S.’s Largest Biodiesel Refinery to Open Soon

The nation’s single largest biodiesel plant to date is set to open in early June.

GreenHunter Energy’s 105 million gallon “white-water” B100 plant is planned to open on June 2nd at the company’s Houston location. According to this press release, several federal, state and local officials, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, U.S. Dept. of Energy Deputy Secretary Jeff Kupfer, and Houston Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Garcia, will join company officials in a grand opening ceremony:

The converted waste-oil refinery on the Houston Ship Channel gives GreenHunter’s renewable fuels campus direct deepwater access and the ability to transport products via barge, rail, and truck. Generators at the site will provide enough electricity for GreenHunter to sell unneeded power back to the grid. GreenHunter’s campus also includes basic terminal operations and 700,000 barrels of storage capacity for feedstock management.

By producing biodiesel from multiple feedstocks, including non-edible sources such as tallow and jatropha, GreenHunter offers practical solutions to the ongoing “food versus fuels” debate.

The press is invited to the event:

WHERE: GreenHunter Energy Renewable Fuels Campus
13605 Industrial Rd.
Houston, TX 77015
*On site parking provided for media

WHEN: Monday, June 2, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
10 – 10:25 a.m. Press Conference & Grand Opening
10:25 – 10:45 a.m. Guided Refinery Walking Tour
10:45 – 11 a.m. Media Availability

NBB: Biodiesel & Ethanol Help Your Wallet

The National Biodiesel Board wants to remind Americans as they get on the road for the long, Memorial Day Weekend, that biofuels… biodiesel, in particular… are helping keep the price of a gallon of fuel from carving out an even larger portion of your wallet.

The NBB cites new information from the International Energy Agency that says that, globally, biofuels are replacing a million barrels of crude oil a day… more than $130 million daily. And commodity analysts say gas prices would be about 15 percent higher if not for the green fuels.

The real costs for fuels, according to this NBB release, are rising crude oil prices and restricted supplies; tight refining capacity; increasing transportation costs of hauling petroleum-based products; and higher federal excise taxes on diesel fuel compared to gasoline:

Biodiesel is uniquely positioned to offset all of these costs in the following ways:

* As a drop-in replacement for diesel fuel, biodiesel blends can extend our diesel fuel supply. If we replaced 5 percent of our on-road petroleum diesel fuel with biodiesel, this would replace about 1.85 billion gallons of diesel fuel a year, or the entire amount of diesel fuel currently refined from crude oil imported from Iraq. Continue reading