Ethanol teams up with an American winner: NASCAR moves to E15 in 2011

Minnesota Corn Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy and 100 other ethanol production companies and advocacy groups have banded together to become a major sponsor of NASCAR racing. The coalition will offer weekly prizes for every race in the three NASCAR national series, according to the racing body’s Chairman and CEO Brian France, who announced the ethanol promotion along with the ethanol coalition last Thursday via live video feed to 30-plus locations across the nation.

Minnesota State University-Mankato hosted Minnesota’s live video event, which drew together members of Minnesota Corn Growers Association, along with representatives of the state’s ethanol plants and other ethanol supporters. Rick Mummert, general manager of Poet Ethanol in Glenville, emceed the event. Kelly Marsczak of American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest also spoke at the event.

MCGA grower leader Tom Haag, Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council representative Jerry Demmer, and MCGA regional representative Dan Erickson all attended.

“This sponsorship of NASCAR is a great opportunity for MCGA to reach out to the American people, through one of our most popular sports series, to show everyone what it means to run vehicles on ethanol. This truly is a win-win for farmers, and for the American people. You still have to this day, people saying that no, ethanol cannot be put in my car, because it may hurt it. There will be a lot of fans who watch NASCAR and those fans will spread the good word that ethanol is good for the cars–it can be run in all cars,” said Erickson.

The race association views the move to E15, under its Green Flag program, as a win for NASCAR too: “American Ethanol’s new partnership with NASCAR is much larger and more ambitious than a typical sports sponsorship. Here we have an entire industry looking to NASCAR to communicate its message that America is capable of producing its own renewable, greener fuel. The entire NASCAR industry will benefit from American Ethanol’s multi-faceted support of NASCAR, as well as from thousands of farmers and members of the ethanol supply chain now serving as new ambassadors for the sport.”

Regional Rep Dan Erickson noted the phenomenon of strong fan loyalty in NASCAR, which translates to consumer choices: “People have their favorite drivers and they often purchase the brand of tires or motor oil used by their driver. We’re hoping the same kind of consumer loyalty will lead fans to see that if it’s good enough for America’s top stock car racers, they can run their own vehicles on ethanol.”

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc. (NASCAR) is America’s top spectator sport — with more of the top 20 highest-attended sporting events in the U.S. than any other sport — and is the No. 2 rated regular-season sport on television. NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 countries and in 20 languages. NASCAR fans are the most brand loyal in all of sports, and as a result more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR than any other sport.

“E15 is an enormous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create U.S. jobs, and strengthen national energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.” There is nothing more American than NASCAR, and there is no fuel more American than ethanol. We are so proud that the bounty of American farming will be used in NASCAR racing.”

The E15 for all NASCAR events will be supplied by Sunoco, which has started its own brand-name E15 product.

Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, which is a network of 27 ethanol plants producing more than 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol annually, noted that ethanol is an American industry whose jobs will never be outsourced.

“Grain ethanol is at least 59 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline,” Broin said during the NASCAR announcement ceremony in Las Vegas. “Growth Energy has officially petitioned to increase the allowable blend of ethanol in transportation fuel for everyday American motorists from 10 percent to 15 percent, which would help create 136,000 new American jobs.”

NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series and one local grassroots series, as well as two international series. Also part of NASCAR is Grand-Am Road Racing, known for its competition on road courses with multiple classes of cars. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., NASCAR has offices in New York; Los Angeles; Charlotte, N.C.; Concord, N.C.; Conover, N.C.; Bentonville, Ark.; Mexico City; and Toronto.

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