Racing With Ethanol Information
We have researched and accumulated a
large amount of information to help racers, engine builders, and race sanctioning
organizations understand the characteristics
of ethanol-enhanced fuels. Some of this information is available for free download here.
Racing Fuel Characteristics
Racing E85 FAQ's
How to Determine Ethanol Content, E10-E30
How to Determine Ethanol Content, E85
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E85, the Next Street Performance & Racing Fuel
Corvette Corral Ethanol Presentation
ICAIA Presentation, Ranken Technical College
Here's some of the most recent information
we've gathered from racers like Dave Slatten
and Ricky Dyer who are racing and
winning on E85:
Important Notice: Racing
and race engine building are inherently dangerous. IQ Learning Systems, Inc.,
its agents and representatives expressly disclaim any responsibility for injuries,
damage, or loss of property that may result from using the information from this site.
Always handle and dispose of fuel by the manufacturer's recommended procedures.
Perform all engine and vehicle modifications and testing only with the supervision by
experienced racers and engine builders.
The information here is not to be posted publicly, or otherwise copied
or distributed without the expressed written permission of IQ Learning Systems, Inc.
All rights reserved.
■ Blending an E85 Racing Fuel:
Using pump E85 in a race car poses some questions. The actual ethanol content of
E85 varies widely at the retail level. In winter months, the ethanol content is
reduced to 72% or lower to promote better fuel vaporization and starting.
FFV's (Flex Fuel Vehicles) cope with this by having ethanol content sensing
systems and dynamic control over the air/fuel mixture with feedback to the electronic control module. Also, E85
at the retail level is not anhydrous (dry) and the gasoline component is a
not a high-octane material. While many racers have found considerable performance increases
with pump E85, it could be very advantageous to utilize an E85 fuel specifically
blended for racing applications. However, as of today, there is no fuel distributor of which
we're aware that is marketing racing E85 fuel. Until that happens, you may have to work
with a qualified person or company that can blend a custom racing E85 fuel for you.
This would be especially helpful when running vehicles with fixed-orifice fuel
Important Safety Notice:
The handling, storing, and dispensing of liquid fuels pose a variety of safety
and environmental issues. You must comply with all federal, state,
and local laws when handling and storing liquid fuels. Obtain and follow all
fuel manufacturer's safety and handling recommendations before you work with any
Custom blended racing E85 fuel would benefit from using anhydrous (dry) ethanol. It should
then be mixed in precise proportions with a quality unleaded racing gasoline.
Be sure to take full advantage of the power potential of ethanol by using the
maximum 85% if so restricted by the rules of your race sanctioning organization.
■ Changes to the Fuel Delivery System:
If you have been running a high quality racing gasoline and want to switch to
a racing E85 fuel, you must make sure that the entire fuel delivery system is
E85 compatible. Some racers have experienced degradation of paper fuel filters,
so we currently recommend metallic screen filters. Some racers have removed the
foam in their racing fuel tank, but that reduces the safety of the tank and may
be illegal. Most have reported few or no issues with degradation of the foam filler.
Carburetors will require component changes to alcohol-tolerant materials. The
air/fuel mixture must be adjusted richer, usually by 26-34% depending on the particular
fuel and application. The carburetor will require other internal modifications
to handle the greater fuel flow including work to internal passages and boosters.
The fuel pump must have greater volume capacity. For endurance racing applications, you will need a correspondingly
larger fuel tank. It should be noted that E85, like all alcohol derivatives, is
highly conductive to electricity. Pumps, lines, and in-tank gauges must be designed
specifically for alcohol applications.
■ Other Recommended Engine Modifications:
The engine may have some detonation problems as well as ignition-related issues
when you make the switch from racing gasoline to E85. Ethanol
absorbs a great deal of heat as it is delivered into the intake manifold. This may
be part of the reason why naturally aspirated engines often exhibit symptoms similar to cold
drivability problems on E85. This includes intake backfires and
other ignition misfiring conditions. These issues are likely also due to localized
high combustion temperatures. In many cases, these issues may be a result of inadequate
fuel delivery. There are good solutions to these problems.
First, use only non-projected tip racing spark plugs in a very cold heat range (to
eliminate the "glow plug" effect). Increase the size of the spark plug gap and
install the most energetic racing ignition system you can find. Be sure you have
a fuel delivery system that can handle the increased volume requirements. If
detonation problems persist, you may have to retard the spark timing about 2░
from your previous settings. It may also be desirable to reduce the static compression ratio slightly.
■ Race Day Considerations:
The use of any alcohol, including ethanol and E85, tends to make your car more
consistent on race day and more tolerant of barometric pressure variations
when compared to gasoline. However, you may
find that the car is sensitive to changes in humidity. In high-humidity conditions,
you may have to lean out the air/fuel ratio somewhat, but always be aware of
potential detonation issues. The extreme cooling effects in the intake manifold
must also be addressed. Some drag racers find that the manifold must have a static
temperature above 140░F in order to make the best runs. Alcohols including ethanol
are very hygroscopic (absorb water) and must be capped at all times. Racers running
E85 have reported no need for unusual post-race "pickling" procedures, but we recommend that
you drain the fuel tank after each race and check the oil for milking (presence
of water) frequently. As with any all types of fuels, you must drain the fuel
tank, lines, and carburetors when storing the vehicle for extended periods of time.
■ Dyno Results With E85:
In naturally aspirated applications, expect horsepower levels that
are at least 5% higher after switching to E85 and making the necessary
adjustments to the engine, carburetor, and fuel delivery system. Carburetor builder
Mike Ross has reported much higher gains on the dyno when making the necessary
adjustments--up to almost 20% more horespower over racing gasoline. You can also
expect significant increases in low-end torque. Engine oil temperatures run cooler as well.
Rickie Dyer reports that those running forced induction and nitrous oxide
injection systems are finding tremendous gains, even on pump E85. Some have seen
more than 200 horsepower gains at the rear wheels in high-horsepower applications.
In time, as engine builders continue to test new components on E85, it is probable that
even higher gains will be realized.
Racing Ethanol Training Programs:
As the developers of many racing related
training programs and books (see
IQ Books & Manuals),
we have created and delivered technical training and support for
racers, engineers, and race sanctioning organizations.
On July 19th, 2008, Bob Colesworthy presented at the Amercian Lemans/Indy IRL series
at Mid Ohio race track for the Corvette Corral. This presentation was conducted
on behalf of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).
In December of 1997, Bob Colesworthy was asked to present a training seminar for
, the Advanced
Engineering & Technology Conference in Orlando, FL. The topic was E85 - The Next
Street Performance & Racing Fuel. More than 200 racers, engineers, and engine builders were
in attendance for this event.
Can We Help You?
If you'd like for us to present any of our training programs
or if you'd like us to develop materials or a customized program to meet your needs,
by phone or email us