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DATE News (chronologically)
02/22/07
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Indy Car Day 2 testing Notebook  
Happy Birthday, Larry: A.J. Foyt surprised his son, Larry, with a bikini birthday cake Feb. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in honor of his 30th birthday.

He said the worst thing "is I can't say I'm in my 20s any longer."

Larry, who competed last week in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway, is in his first year as team director of A.J. Foyt Racing. Driver Darren Manning, participating in his second Open Test in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. car, was limited during the first day on the 1.5-mile oval because of a clutch issue.

All wet: Despite leading the first day of Indy Pro Series testing Feb. 20, Super Aguri Panther Racing rookie Hideki Mutoh was the bane of some jokes from countryman and IndyCar Series driver Kosuke Matsuura.
It seems Mutoh mistakenly put both of his cell phones, one for the U.S. and one for Japan, in the washing machine recently.

"After going to the gym I was really tired, and I just forgot them in my jacket pocket," Mutoh said. Matsuura and Mutoh are developing a strong friendship. They live in the same apartment complex in Indianapolis and spend quite a bit of time together.

Godzilla: The Super Aguri Panther Racing team has named Hideki Mutoh's No. 55 Dallara 'Godzilla.'  The number five in Japanese is pronounced 'go.' Team members translated 55 into 'go-go' and then referenced the Blue Oyster Cult song "Godzilla," which contains the phrase 'go go Godzilla' to come up with the moniker.

"Godzilla is one of the strongest characters in Japan," Mutoh said. "He's never lost against any other monsters."

Every time the Panther team took the car back into the garage during the Open Test they decorated the chassis with stuffed Godzilla dolls.

"I'm very pleased to be with the Panther team," Mutoh said. "They're very warm and kind. We're getting along very well."

Hall of Famer: Leo Mehl says he will represent thousands of people who have contributed to motorsports when he is inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Mehl, who as executive director shepherded the Indy Racing League during its formative years of operation, will join 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann, Indy car mechanic/team manager Jim McGee, 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, sports car champion John Fitch, motorcycle champion Bubba Shobert and the drag racing team of Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin as inductees Aug. 15 in Detroit.

Before joining the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series, in December 1996, Mehl was general manager of worldwide racing for Goodyear for 22 years.

"Everyone has always said that racing is a team sport and representing Goodyear for all those years and then the Indy Racing League, the team that I represented was several thousand people in factories, engineers, tire fitters and service people who also have made contributions," Mehl said. "I accept it on behalf of those people."

As a chemical engineer with Goodyear, Mehl helped develop the tires that put A.J. Foyt and Goodyear back into the Indianapolis 500 winner's circle in 1967.

"When I started in the mid-60s, my first real important job was making rubber compounds for the Indy 500," Mehl said. "Once A.J. won the race in '67, I got promoted because of that to Formula 1.

"Tires are the only things that actually touch the ground on a race car, so the tires always have been very important in winning. I've been very fortunate to stay in a business I love so much for so long."

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is located in Novi, Mich.

Ethanol Proves To Be A Great Performance Fuel With The IndyCar Series: The image of ethanol as an important fuel alternative has been a hot topic for several years now.

Everyone from U.S. President George W. Bush to former vice-president Al Gore to Indiana Senator Evan Bayh to executives of the Detroit auto manufacturers to environment advocates have expounded on the virtues of ethanol for passenger cars in the United States.

Yes, the facts that ethanol helps the atmosphere by burning cleaner, assists the American economy by using crops from the U.S. farmers and slows the dependence of foreign oil have been well documented.

But the use of ethanol in high-performance vehicles has been one of the renewable fuel's most attractive qualities and best kept secrets. Leading the charge as the key proponent for the use of ethanol is the IndyCar Series. With racing machines that reach speeds in excess of 240 mph on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, the IndyCar Series is the ultimate challenge for ethanol as a performance fuel. For the first time in 40 years, the Indy car racing has made a fuel switch, and the move from methanol to renewable ethanol has put the series at the forefront of the racing industry.  No other racing series has made a complete switch to 100 percent renewable fuel.

"The IndyCar Series jump to ethanol has been great," said Tony Kanaan, the series champion.  "We are definitely on the right path with ethanol.  There is more power with the new (3.5-liter Honda V-8) engine.  It runs clean and it is better for the environment.  So it is a win-win situation, and that is great for the series.  Ethanol is another alternative to gasoline. If we can show that the IndyCar Series cars can run ethanol, then it is good for everyone's street cars."

The move to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol also illustrates the performance aspects of the fuel including a higher octane rating (113 to methanol's 107), a high flash point (55.4 º F to 52º F) and a larger energy content (77,000 BTU per gallon to 64,250 BTU per gallon). Ethanol's positive energy balance means the energy source produced gives back more energy than it took to create it. And that balance helps give the IndyCar Series cars a positive feel on and off the track.

Like Kanaan's previous comments, the IndyCar Series drivers have been excited about the switch to fuel-grade ethanol in 2007.

"The engine is much stronger on the lower end," said Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion.  "The (ethanol) fuel is something that's new for us, but so far it's been a big plus.  We're headed in the right direction.  We're going to be fun to watch this year."

Vitor Meira added "I think the IndyCar Series is doing a great job with the use of ethanol. It's pretty innovative, and I think sets a good example for the rest of the United States and the world on using this source of fuel.  I remember the first go-kart I ever drove in Brazil was ethanol-powered, and I feel like I've come full circle since my Delphi car is now running on ethanol."

Ethanol fuel has been a performance component in a variety of racing vehicles for the last 20 years including drag racing, sprint car racing, karting, boat racing and airplane competition.

The 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol for the entire IndyCar Series campaign comes from Renova Energy of Torrington, Wyo.  Dan and Jamie Schwartzkopf of Renova Energy have been developing fuel-grade ethanol for racing for two decades as they compete in the National Hot Rod Association drag racing circuit.

"In all the conversations I have had with the (IndyCar Series) crews, everybody seems to like ethanol," said Dan Schwartzkopf.  "No bad remarks whatsoever."

The IndyCar Series will make history on March 24 at Homestead Miami Speedway when the 2007 season gets underway with the entire field of 700-horsepower open wheel machines running on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, becoming the first motorsports series to transition to renewable fuels.

President gets close-up look at Team Ethanol car: Before heading indoors to participate in a panel discussion about cellulosic ethanol in North Carolina on Feb. 22, President George W. Bush got a close-up look at a Team Ethanol show car at Novozymes North America.

In his State of the Union Address, Bush set a goal of reducing America's gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next decade (the "Twenty in Ten" plan). This goal requires progress in fuel economy standards for cars and harnessing technology to increase the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol.

The IndyCar Series is the first in motorsports to use 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in its Honda Indy V-8 engines.

Novozymes produces enzymes, which speed up chemical reactions and a key to producing ethanol. Enzymes break down starch in plants such as corn so it can be converted to fuel. Novozymes' work with enzymes also is making it possible to produce ethanol from plant material other than corn.

"The goal is for the United States to be -- to diversify away from old, old ways," said Bush, who has set a goal of 35 gallons of renewable and alternative fuels by 2017. "And it's possible. And I do believe it is a proper use of your money, taxpayers' money, to spend to encourage research on interesting ideas.

"We spent about $12 billion since I've been your president to try to stimulate technologies that will literally change the way we live. A lot of that money has gone into clean coal technologies. If you're worried about dependency on oil from overseas, then it seems to make sense to me that we ought to be able to have the technology so that we can better use the resources we have here at home.

"And these are exciting times, they really are. I've always said, America needs to stay on the leading edge of technological change. It will mean we remain a really important economy in the world, but it will also mean that our folks will be able to find good high-paying jobs."

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