GM Racing

Corvette Racing to Introduce E85 Ethanol Racing Fuel in St. Petersburg Street Race

Chevy Factory Team Ready for First Race with Cellulosic E85R on Bayside Circuit

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A new era for Corvette Racing will begin on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 5 when Chevrolet's factory road racing team runs cellulosic E85 racing ethanol in the American Le Mans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. The twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars have been outfitted with new fuel cells that are compatible with the ethanol/gasoline blend and their LS7.R small-block V-8 racing engines have been recalibrated for the high-octane renewable alternative fuel.

"We're heading down the right path," said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. "We're going to be able to demonstrate that an ethanol/gasoline blend can deliver exceptional performance, which is one of the objectives of this program. While the reformulated E85R racing fuel has a higher octane rating than the E85 fuel than consumers can buy at a pump, its composition is very similar to an E85 winter blend."

The cellulosic ethanol that will power Corvette Racing is made from waste wood collected in the Black Hills National Forest as part of a wildfire prevention program. Undergrowth and dead trees that would otherwise be burned are converted to cellulosic ethanol at a pilot plant in Upton, Wyo., operated by the KL Process Design Group. The cellulosic ethanol made from waste wood is identical to conventional grain-based ethanol. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), the leader in bringing "green" fuels to motorsports, contracted KL Process Design Group to provide the cellulosic E85 racing ethanol used by Corvette Racing.

Co-products of the ethanol conversion process include lignin (the remaining wood fibers less their sugar) and syrup. The lignin is burned to power the self-sufficient conversion plant, which feeds surplus electricity into the power grid for use by local businesses and homes. Lignin is also used for livestock bedding, composite woods, and the production of paints and cosmetics. The high-protein syrup produced in the cellulosic ethanol conversion process is used as a livestock feed supplement.

"The sanctioning body levels the playing field between cars using the series' standard E10 fuel and E85R-powered entries by adjusting their fuel capacity and the refueling rate to compensate for the difference in the energy content of the fuels," Wesoloski explained. "The Corvette C6.R was designed and homologated before the arrival of E85 racing ethanol in the ALMS, so its 102-liter fuel capacity is slightly less than the maximum we're allowed to run under the new regulations. However, the St. Petersburg race is only one hour and 55 minutes in duration, so pit stop strategy and fuel mileage aren't likely to be concerns in our first race with E85R."

"The St. Petersburg event will be a good opportunity for the team to use the E85R fuel under actual race conditions," he added. "Then we can make adjustments for subsequent races."

While Corvette Racing will become the first manufacturer team to use E85R in ALMS competition, E85 ethanol already is an option for millions of everyday drivers. GM leads the automotive industry with more than 2.5 million E85-capable cars, trucks and SUVs on the road in the United States. GM produces about 400,000 E85-capable vehicles a year and will double that to 800,000 a year by 2010. Chevrolet offers seven E85-capable models in 2008.

The Long Run: Corvette Racing's Marathon Man

With victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin knows about endurance racing. On April 13, Gavin will face a test of endurance of another kind when he competes in the grueling 26-mile, 385-yard London Marathon.

"I am now well into my training program and have set myself the personal goal of completing the course in under three hours," Gavin said. "Aside from this being an immense personal achievement, our main aim is to raise as much money as we can for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust."

A six-year-old friend of Gavin’s daughter, Lily, suffers from cystic fibrosis, one of the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited diseases. The child’s plight and fight have inspired Gavin to raise money through his participation in his second London Marathon. Gavin's goal is to raise $2,500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Donations can be made online at www.justgiving.com/olivergavin.

Running has become an integral element of Gavin's fitness routine for racing. He has previously run marathons in Paris, London and Hampshire.

"The endurance aspect is key because good fitness and good heart and lung capacity help you think clearly in the race car," Gavin said. "Fitness improves concentration and you make fewer mistakes in a busy race. We race in some rather hot places, so heat is also a factor. If you are fit, you won’t get as fatigued as quickly."

Corvette Racing’s next event is the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg presented by XM Satellite Radio on the temporary street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 5. ABC will televise the one-hour, 55-minute event starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Release Date: April 1, 2008