When it comes to technology, NASCAR often moves slow. Granted, the sanctioning body has put its safety efforts on a fast track since the death of Dale Earnhardt, but mechanical fuel pumps, carburetors, cam-in-block engines, 4-speed manual transmissions and a library of aerodynamic no-nos continues to keep NASCAR in the tech Dark Ages.
Brent Dewar of GM is now urging NASCAR to consider renewable fuels, particularly a switch from gasoline to ethanol. The move would mirror the IRL's move to 100 percent ethanol this season, and ALMS is running on a 10 percent blend.
GM, of course, would endorse such a move with all its might. The company already offers numerous flex-fuel vehicles and promotes E85 vigorously. Some of the sport's drivers, including Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty, have no problems with researching the idea.
The cars would have to be modified, such as increasing the fuel tank capacity since ethanol has less energy and poorer fuel economy. But it runs cooler, so NASCAR might allow the teams to increase the compression ratio to compensate for any power differences.
Since NASCAR is really a marketing agency, the key to any switch will be the deal made with the "official" supplier of fuel. Right now that's Sunoco, so the oil company's management would have to be a supporter and promoter of alternative fuels. I don't think there will be quick action on his idea. NASCAR is still running leaded gasoline with plans to switch to unleaded for the 2008 season. The Busch and Craftsman series experimented with the fuel last year.
[Source: Associated Press via USA Today]