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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.

Downloadable Information:

Racing Fuel Characteristics

Racing E85 FAQ's

How to Determine Ethanol Content, E10-E30

How to Determine Ethanol Content, E85


PowerPoint« Presentations:

To download and view the IQ Learning Systems PowerPoint« presentations, click the links below:

Important Notice: You must have Microsoft PowerPoint« installed on your computer to view this presentation. Allow several minutes for the 5.6 Mb file download to complete. Use the scroll bar to view the next slide or right-click and save the file for auto-advance viewing in PowerPoint.

This presentation is for your personal use only and cannot be displayed to others, posted publicly, or otherwise copied or distributed without the expressed written permission of IQ Learning Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.


E85, the Next Street Performance & Racing Fuel

Corvette Corral Ethanol Presentation

ICAIA Presentation, Ranken Technical College


Latest Hotwire:

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 delivery systems.

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 motor fuel.

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 Bob Colesworthy presenting at the 2007 AETC conference in Orlando, FL(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 AETC , 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.


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