And They’re Off!

The Governor’s Ethanol Challenge began last week with races in Oglivie and Princeton and continues with three more racing events

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The humidity dropped and the rain cleared off in time for Midwest Mods and Mod-4 racing cars to compete last week in the first races of the 2011 Governor’s Ethanol Challenge. The five racing events take place at Wissota Racing League tracks, and offer special prize purses to competitors who use ethanol blends ten percent or greater to fuel their cars.

The Governor’s Ethanol Challenge began under Gov. Tim Pawlenty and continues now with Gov. Mark Dayton, who have given the seal of the state chief executive’s office to help Minnesota Corn Growers Association spotlight the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol for Minnesota. Also, racing with ethanol demonstrates the high quality and performance characteristics of the fuel.

Opening night in Oglivie last Tuesday followed by Wednesday night’s event in Princeton represent the first time the Governor’s Ethanol Challenge races have taken place at metro area venues.

“We are bringing the ethanol messages to a whole new group of people,” said Chad Willis, a farmer in Willmar and chairman of Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council. Willis, an organizer of the GEC events, attended the races in Oglivie and Princeton.

“There was some good racing in both features both nights,” said Willis. “The announcers did a good job mentioning ethanol and making an impression with facts about ethanol. They talked about how many gallons of ethanol come out of a bushel of corn, how much DDGS come from it–It makes an impression about the quality and efficiency of ethanol production and what a positive thing it is for our communities.”

A band of young volunteers handed out literature to people as they came through the gate and were paid with an official GEC t-shirt. American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest has committed to sending representatives to each of the five events. In Oglivie, ALAUM communications director Bob Moffitt brought packets of information that included a thank-you message and additional information about ethanol, that he placed on all the flexible fuel vehicles he could find in the parking area. Jon Hunter and Courtney Blankenheim did the same at the Princeton races the following night.

This week the series will go to Viking Speedway (July 26th) Madison Speedway (July 27th) and finish up at KRA Speedway in Willmar on July 28th.

Here are some of the ethanol facts the announcer shared with the audience:

– Minnesota is the nation’s leader in the number of fueling stations that sell E85. Today, there are more than 370 stations in Minnesota that sell E85, the renewable fuel made of 85 percent ethanol and just 15 percent gasoline. To locate an E85 station near you, log on to

– Not only can ethanol plants currently produce about 2.8 gallons of ethanol from a 56-pound bushel of corn, they also simultaneously produce 17.5 pounds of high protein livestock feed from that same bushel. 

– In 2010, U.S. ethanol plants produced more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol. That makes ethanol producers our nation’s third largest supplier of fuel – behind only Canada and Saudi Arabia and ahead of Venezuela.

– It’s a fact! Ethanol provides, on average, 67 percent more energy than it takes to produce it. Gasoline, on the other hand, provides about 15 percent less energy than is required to produce it.

– Minnesota’s 21 ethanol facilities are capable of producing more than 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol. This year, about 260 million bushels of corn in Minnesota will be made into ethanol.

– Back in 1996, Minnesota only produced 20 percent of the ethanol we used. Today, we produce more ethanol than we need, which means we’re able to export it to other areas of the country and bring more dollars back to our state.

– It’s true that, like most industries, ethanol production uses water. Typically, 2 to 3 gallons of water are used in producing one gallon of ethanol. To compare, it takes about 2 gallons of water to brush your teeth, 4 gallons of water to produce a pound of hamburger, 2-7 gallons to flush a toilet, 25-50 gallons to take a 5 minute shower, and 50 gallons of water is used each day per person. Minnesota is one of the only states that tracks water use at ethanol plants and those records show a steady decrease in gallon per gallon water usage.



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