MARION, Ind. — When it comes to spectator sports, not many events can match the vibrant colors, the unique sounds and the raw power of drag racing.
All of that and more was on display Aug. 13-14 at the Shift-S3ctor Indy Airstrip Attack at the Marion Municipal Airport.
As a title sponsor for the event, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council touts higher blends of ethanol for the thousands of race fans at the race and millions of fans watching online.
In fact, most of this year’s race drivers fueled up their cars with high-octane ethanol. Of the 286 cars that competed, 65% used E85 — a blended fuel with 85% ethanol.
In the first race in Marion seven years ago, only 10% of the drivers raced on E85.
“Ethanol-blended fuels like E85 naturally have a high octane, which allow engines to operate at higher pressures enabling increased efficiency and boosting horsepower,” said ICMC President Paul Hodgen, a farmer from Roachdale. “The bottom line is E85 is a smart, environmentally friendly, renewable, low-cost fuel that supports our rural and local economy.”
ICMC also promoted Unleaded 88, which is a 15% ethanol-blended fuel that can be found at nearly 100 retailers around Indiana. That number is increasing due in part to ICMC’s retailer-grant program.
ICMC CEO Courtney Kingery said the state’s corn checkoff is committed to expanding consumers’ access to ethanol-blended fuels.
“Sponsoring this event and promoting corn-based, ethanol-rich fuels such as Unleaded 88 is right on track with our mission,” Kingery said. “Ethanol is a leading market for Indiana-grown corn.”
She said Indiana harvests nearly 5.5 million acres of corn each year, and those acres yield more than 900 million bushels. Indiana is the fifth-largest, corn-producing state in America.
Nearly 50% of the corn grown in Indiana will be processed in one of the state’s 15 ethanol plants.
Corn growers who work within 30 miles of an ethanol plant could realize an 18- to 23-cent premium per bushel on corn prices.
At more than 1.1 billion gallons per year, Indiana is the fifth-largest U.S. producer of ethanol. Indiana produces nearly 8% of the total U.S. ethanol output.
Shift-S3ctor racing features sports cars that might be found on the highway, such as Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs and Dodge Vipers. But the event also showcases high-profile racing cars manufactured by Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Nissan GTR.
During the race on the half-mile airport runway, some of these cars can reach 200 mph. For more details about Shift-S3ctor, visit https://shift-s3ctor.com.
Shift-S3ctor co-founder Jason Huang said the maximum numbers of drivers signed up to participate in this year’s race.
“From a race weekend perspective, it was incredible. We were at max capacity in terms of race cars,” he said. “It was amazing to see that many cars come out to Marion. Ninety-five percent of those cars were not even from the state of Indiana.
“These guys came in from all over the county — Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, California. To get that many people from all over the country into Marion was a real feat. I think we also had a very good turnout for spectators.”
ICMC board member Joshua Miller, a farmer from Anderson, raced in the Indy Airstrip Attack driving his Chevrolet Corvette powered by E85.
“Most people may not realize it, but farming and auto racing are very similar. Both are about innovation and taking risks,” said Miller, who hit a top speed of 139.02 mph.
“In racing, innovations to the cars improve their performance, and taking risks can be the difference between winning and losing. In agriculture, we integrate new technology every year. If we don’t, then we risk not getting the most out of the crops we plant.
“Farmers also work to find new markets to improve the value of our crops. Unleaded 88 and ethanol-blended fuels are critical to the success of Indiana farmers.”
ICMC Biofuels Director Helena Jette said the state’s corn checkoff is in its fifth consecutive year of sponsoring Shift-S3ctor’s Indy Airstrip Attack.
She added that ICMC was happy to have co-title sponsorship with First Farmers Bank and Trust and to promote ethanol-blended fuels.
“Unleaded 88 is Engine Smart and Earth Kind,” she said. “Unleaded 88 is a naturally higher octane fuel that increases efficiency and boosts the horsepower of modern engines. But Unleaded 88 also burns cleaner than conventional gasoline leaving the air cleaner and easier to breathe.
“Unleaded 88 is the innovation while E85 needs to continue to be highlighted in fuels for our cars now and in the future. This is why we support Shift-S3ctor’s Indy Airstrip Attack.”
For more information about the Indy Airstrip Attack, visit http://airstripattack.co.