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Unread 10-15-2008, 05:38 PM   #1
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Default E85/Ethanol Challenge at GIR Provides Glimpse to Energy Independence

Madison, Ill. - Spectators may have thought they were watching hot rods racing down Gateway International Raceway's quarter-mile, NHRA-sanctioned drag strip Wednesday. What they were actually seeing was a glimpse into the future; a future not beholden to foreign oil, but provided by flex-fuel vehicles and corn-based ethanol.

The E85/Ethanol Challenge, an event hosted by GIR, the Illinois Corn Growers Association, the American Lung Association, and 5.0 Mustang Magazine, displayed for both private citizens and some of Illinois' top lawmakers how ethanol is a legitimate and less expensive choice for American consumers.

Several E85 flex-fuel vehicles, ranging from an everyday street cars to high-performance race vehicles, made passes down Gateway's drag strip, all using ethanol provided by Center Ethanol. The exhibition was an effective one.

"What I'm seeing is very interesting," said Mike Campbell, representing U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.)." If you look at the Congressman's record, he's been a strong supporter of renewable fuels. We have an ethanol plant in operation right now in Sauget, his Congressional district. I think (today's demonstration) is one way of showing that (ethanol is a viable fuel option). Any concept we can use to show that any method we can use to show those thoughts that we can produce renewable fuels and lessen our dependence on foreign oil is always positive."

GIR has worked hand-in-hand in recent years with numerous area and state lawmakers and many of them were in attendance Wednesday, including St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, Illinois State Representative Dan Beiser, and Illinois State Senator Frank Watson. Watson took a pass down the strip in a flex-fuel vehicle provided by the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers and, like his fellow attendees, felt the event provided a great example of the benefits ethanol can provide to drivers as well as producers.

"The biggest problem we have with ethanol and E85 is availability," he said. "The demand will create the availability and we're seeing that happen. E85 gives us hope for the future. I think there are a lot of people out there who don't understand that E85 is a viable fuel alternative.

"Once we get the acceptance, it will have a huge impact on corn growers all over the Midwest and certainly in Illinois. It's going to happen."

The Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board have been involved in other platforms of racing, including sponsorship of Springfield, Ill.-native and recently-crowned ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Justin Allgaier's sprint car. Dave Loos, the director of commercial development for ILCGA, feels the exhibition at Gateway is just the first step.

"I think we're seeing E85 as a high-performance renewable fuel, which is what we're promoting here," he said. "We're also seeing it as a clean-burning fuel that is good for the air and it's also good for the economy. The ethanol is produced from corn, it's grown 30 or 40 miles from Gateway International Raceway, it's produced five or six miles from here at Center Ethanol, and used right here on the track. It's pretty exciting, that synergy between the corn grown for ethanol and the ethanol produced right here and used in these race cars."

GIR Vice President and General Manager Lenny Batycki has worked with these groups since his arrival here in late 2006 in an effort to show not only that Gateway International Raceway truly is one of the most diverse race facilities in the country, but also has the ability to host an event such as this one that can effect change on a national level.

"This is a great event to showcase Southwestern Illinois and its producers of corn and ethanol," he said. "What the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Corn Growers Association are showcasing is a product that can lead us to energy independence.

"It's a proud moment for Gateway to work with the Illinois Corn Growers Association, our political leaders in the area, and of course all the reps that have come together to put this event on to show that here, in Southwestern Illinois, we have the ability to grow it, produce it, and it will perform on a national event track like Gateway. We think this is an exceptional event and we're glad to be the platform for it."

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Unread 10-15-2008, 07:48 PM   #2
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Kinda cool seeing how they did this in my home state.

I hope we can finally adopt something other than gasoline.
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Unread 10-15-2008, 10:59 PM   #3
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I cant wait for e85 to come around here. Being that its equal to 105 octane gas, that means i can run all the more boost before detonation! Happy to see they are starting to push hard for flex fueled race cars!

Another problem with the flex fuels IMO, is education. Many people just dont know enough about it to want it! Just like diesel technology. But hey, that's a whole other story!
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