Some 2,000 people are attending the Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) this week at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. The number includes 500 ethanol producers, said Tom Bryan, vice president, BBI International, organizer of the country's longest-running ethanol convention. The Expo portion of the event features approximately 300 exhibitors.
This morning's session featured a discussion by NASCAR CEO Brian France and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. France told the audience that NASCAR did a lot of testing on ethanol before it made the decision to fuel race cars with E15. “This fuel has been great for NASCAR,” he said. If NASCAR had encountered problems with ethanol, the races wouldn't have gone on. “We had to have a lot of confidence in your product,” he added.
Buis said that the ethanol industry, which is the collective force behind the “American Ethanol” brand, looked to NASCAR as a third party validator. NASCAR fans, some 80 million strong, “are legendary for their loyalty,” Buis said.
NASCAR helps quell some of the myths about ethanol, and also provides it high visibility. “We've become mini evangelists about some of the key points—that ethanol helps with energy independence, that it's American made, and that it drives down emissions. Our industry is dialed into that,” France said. Ethanol has performed well on NASCAR tracks this season and has resulted in only a minor decrease in fuel efficiency, France added.