NASCAR engine builder responds to questions about unleaded gas, ethanol

A GM official last week urged NASCAR to switch to ethanol. Obviously the engines would have to be retuned and re-engineered to accommodate such a move. NASCAR just this week switched to unleaded gas after more than 50 years of using leaded gasoline. Backstretch Motorsports caught up with Mark McArdle, director of Everham Engines to find out what is necessary to make the switch.

McArdle, who also built the winning engine at the Indy 500 three times, says horsepower levels wouldn't necessarily go down but tuning would have to be more precise. Also, there would be durability concerns as the lead additive has self-lubricating properties. McArdle is also concerned with the compatibility of the new fuel with the fuel-line components. He said the transition cost per engine is about $1,200.

Meanwhile, the Dodge engine shop has not explored ethanol but McArdle knows the challenges of using a fuel that doesn't have the energy levels of gasoline. Finally, he says, "A Green NASCAR might bring in a whole new group of fans and sponsors."

[Source: Backstretch Motorsports]

Updated to correct timeline of unleaded implementation.

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