One of the major IndyCar racing events of the year will take place this Sunday, July 8, at Iowa Speedway at Newton. This will be the 12th running of the Iowa Corn 300, a race showcasing the clean-burning, lower-cost benefits of ethanol as a motor fuel. The track at Newton is known as the fastest short track on the planet, and the race attracts big-name IndyCar drivers.
The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) sponsor the race annually to present ethanol to consumers — not only in Iowa but across the U.S. and around the world. “This race is televised and broadcast, giving us a chance to showcase the benefits of ethanol and deliver the message to an audience you don’t get to talk to every day,” says Mark Recker, president of ICGA, who farms in northeast Iowa.
Delivers ethanol message to more people
The Iowa Corn 300 demonstrates the power of the corn-based fuel at speeds over 200 mph, while also pointing out the benefits to motorists of using cleaner burning, homegrown fuel choices at the pump. Major highlights include ethanol’s value to the U.S. economy, to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions, as well as providing a homegrown fuel.
FAST RIDE: Mark Recker rode in a two-seater Indy Car, taking a spin around the track at Newton last year, a ride he describes as “fantastic.”
The message reaches customers. “This is an opportunity to talk about how good ethanol is,” says Recker. “Good for the economy and the environment. With low crop prices, the way things are in the farm economy now, we need to do our best to keep building ethanol demand because we are going to keep producing the corn that goes into ethanol.”
Despite a few weather problems, the US. has a good-size corn crop growing in much of Iowa and the Midwest this summer. Fields have been waterlogged in some locations; in other areas fields still face dry subsoil conditions. Factoring all of this in, the weekly USDA crop condition surveys still indicate a good-size U.S. corn crop is coming this fall.
“It’s a great product,” says Recker. “Ethanol helps displace foreign oil coming into the U.S. which is why ethanol was created — to relieve the U.S. from heavy dependence on imported oil.”
Along with that benefit, producing ethanol is good for the economy, creating jobs, notes Recker. In Iowa alone, the renewable fuels industry is responsible for about 42,000 jobs.
“We value our partnership with Iowa Speedway and the IndyCar series to show the power and performance of ethanol, a home-grown fuel that supports local farmers in our state,” says Duane Aistrope, president of ICPB who farms in southwest Iowa. “Fueling up with homegrown ethanol benefits every driver, every motorist. It reduces harmful emissions, and supports Iowa jobs and the local economy.”
Still need higher ethanol blends
Recker and Aistrope see the annual race as an opportunity to network with ICGA members as well as connect with consumers. “With more than 1,000 ICGA members typically attending the race, this event is a great place to connect with farmers from across the state,” adds Recker. “Ethanol continues to be a win-win for Iowa, but we're far from the checkered flag.”
As farmers work hard to raise their corn crops, Iowa Corn is working to broaden access to higher blends of ethanol, like E15 and higher, and ensure consumers have access to ethanol blends whenever they pull up to the gas pump. ICGA is defending the Renewable Fuel Standard to provide access to ethanol at the pump. “If you drive a flex-fuel vehicle, you could be like your favorite IndyCar driver and fill your tank with E85, an 85% ethanol fuel blend,” says Recker.
Getting EPA approval to use higher blends of ethanol is important, adds Aistrope. Not just having E15 year around, but also the ability to get higher blends of ethanol beyond E15. “We see those higher blends as a market for corn and we need to keep pushing to achieve that potential market.”
More information about ethanol and the race
The Iowa Corn 300 and Iowa Speedway have the nation’s second longest running partnership in IndyCar competition. “This is truly an event for the whole family,” says Aistrope. “Fans love meeting the drivers at the fan walk, seeing the fast cars and feeling the excitement at the track. The Iowa Corn 300 is one of Iowa’s top summer events and we encourage everyone to come experience it.”