Ethanol debate still burning hot

December 3, 2008
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ethanolDebate over the Indy Racing League’s decision to partner with a Brazilian ethanol provider is still burning white hot. The one thing the IRL might have overlooked is that the in-fighting in the ethanol industry is as much about corn vs. sugar cane growers as it is about American vs. foreign producers. A story in this week’s IBJ print edition has sparked reaction on numerous fronts.

First from Terry Angstadt, president of IRL’s commercial division: “The [IRL] is proud to be fueled by ethanol, a renewable energy fuel. For the last three years, ethanol has been the official fuel as a result of a sponsorship agreement with the ethanol producers and EPIC, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. The ethanol producers recently notified the IRL that it would not be renewing the agreement for 2009 and beyond and EPIC is ceasing operation. No one from any other part of the American-based ethanol community stepped forward with a substantial proposal. Soon after, the [IRL] and APEX-Brasil reached a preliminary agreement. As part of that agreement, we plan on starting our 2009 season with American-produced ethanol. Opportunities still exist for American ethanol companies and organizations to continue involvement in the [IRL]. The [IRL] is pleased to continue to be the only major American racing series fueled by 100 percent fuel grade ethanol. APEX will use the [IRL] platform to promote a variety of Brazilian products, services and opportunities, including ethanol. We look forward to working with American producers and Brazilian producers of ethanol to promote ethanol as a renewable energy source and part of the solution to lessen the United States' reliance on Middle Eastern oil.”

I also received several e-mails and phone calls from readers. Suffice it to say, the Iowa corn growers are not happy. Neither are Hoosier farmers. Here’s just one sample of the response I received. This from Indiana corn grower Max Warner: “I was extremely disappointed to learn the Indy Racing League is considering using Brazilian ethanol to power their cars in races in the USA. I have been a fan of the Indy 500 for as long as I can remember and I am 72 years old. But, my interest in this race, and ALL the rest of the Indy style races, will be non-existent if they do not reconsider.”

I also was contacted by officials for Omaha-based EPIC, who said they are not leaving the IRL due to financial difficulties.

“EPIC decided not to renew the fuel sponsorship to shift its focus to a legislative agenda as part of the new organization Growth Energy. The reason for the move was not financial, but a change in direction for our organization,” said EPIC Executive Director Toni Neurberg.

Neurberg also took a shot at the IRL’s decision to partner with Apex.

“I understand that the [IRL] is no different than any other business entity in tough economic times,” Neurberg said. “The need to secure sponsors is of utmost importance. But a decision based solely on financial issues misses the mark. The U.S. ethanol industry has transformed the energy landscape in this country, while providing jobs and pumping money back into the American economy. I sincerely hope the IRL will reconsider its decision.”
  • I don't get it. The US corn growers backed out of the series and pulled their money, but the IRL, who needs cash in the worst way and sought alternatives, is scrutinized and being made a demon here?

    Isn't this all similar to the very mentality that has led to the US auto industry failing? I'm as much for energy independence as the next guy, but this is just silly. 'We're not going to give you money, but you can't get your money from anyone else.'

    Using the same logic, should we also stipulate in return that the US Ethanol industry only look to the US market for growth. No exports, no marketing dollars overseas, etc. etc. Keep the money 100% in the US. It's just crazy. Maybe I'm over simplifying this, but how can this sound reasonable to anyone here???
  • This is grate since many of the drivers in this series created to give American midwest dirt trackers a road to mIndy are from Brazil.
  • If one idea behind ethanol is to reduce import dependence, why would the IRL shift to imported ethanol when there is plenty of ethanol produced right here at home --- and why would America's premier race -- the Indianapolis 500 -- not be fueled by American ethanol for as long as America produces this cleaner-burning fuel
  • Agree with the general logic comlpetely, the dependence argument that is. The problem here is that US Ethanol producers pulled out as sponsors but still seem to think they are entitled to be used as the fuel of choice. It's a business, and the IRL needs sponsorship like they are presumably going to be getting from Brazil.

    Let's entertain for a minute that the IRL folds in a few years if they shut out all of the foreign sponsorship opportunities? Then what does Ethanol gain? They have no sport to champion their product. If they want the IndyCar Series to use US based Ethanol, then step up to the plate and market it. In a free market you don't get FREE advertising just because a bunch of folks think it's the 'right' thing to do. It just doesn't work that way.
  • There is an interesting caveat to this story. An IRL source told me there was a misunderstanding of sorts. IRL folks thought EPIC represented all U.S. ethanol interests (ie-producers). During meetings last week, IRL officials were informed by Iowa and Indiana farmers that is not the case, and some of the other U.S. ethanol interests at those private meetings then stepped up to offer to supply the IRL with ethanol. Unfortunately, the IRL already had a handshake deal with Apex, and weren't about to go back on that.
  • Anthony,

    Jobu still makes a good point about the money being paid to the IRL by the Brazilian interests. The producers here only seem to want to be the suppliers without any additional benefit to the league. Then the IRL says the Brazilian interests willl buy the fuel from US producers. Have the Iowa and Indiana farmers you mention lost their minds over this?
  • First, EPIC doesn't produce ethanol, but is an organization promoting ethanol of which many producers are members. With many of its members declaring bankruptcy, it's just likely that EPIC didn't see the benefit at this point to putting its money into sponsorship with the IRL when it can put it into a more widespread marketing campaign.

    Second, Indycar hasn't been about promoting U.S. products and companies for a long time. Its use of ethanol is about promoting alternative fuels. Using foreign ethanol doesn't make it dependent on foreign OIL, which is the point of ethanol. Ethanol is lousy for the environment too. The point of ethanol is to reduce dependence on oil, which is a limited resource.

    This talk of boycotting the IRL if it doesn't change its mind is just silly. They've signed the contract. It's done. You want to see a fun debate? Just wait until the big 3 in Detroit don't get their bailout and pull out of Nascar. Let's see how redneck America deals with its sweetheart series being powered entirely by Japanese companies (sound familiar). That's something to talk about. This isn't.
  • I find this side-splittingly funny. One group of scammers and frauds complaining about another group of scammers and frauds. The whole sorry lot of them should be hauled off to Gitmo for crimes against America (but I'll settle for FTG :lol: ).

    Here's some rhetorical questions: (for you earl fans, that means there is no need to reply)
    Do the people complaining about the 'leagues' actions understand that FTG is running a garbage spec league of cheaply made Italian flying uglymobiles with Japanese engines in them?
    Does anyone that FTG hires have the slightest clue what their extremely limited fan base thinks about them?


    FTG doesn't give a crap about the fans of motorsport, his actions have repeatedly shown that. He only cares about himself and his precious 'control' psychosis. Well, he's got it now. Hope he chokes on it. Couldn't happen to a more deserving piece of garbage.

    The funniest part is the gomer/midwestern 'outrage'. Did they really think that FTG gives a crap about them? What made them think that? Racin Gardner and Dr Jack Miller? Hysterical!!!!

    The answer to all of this is for the 'league' to cease operation immediately and with permanence. Only when the FTG cancer is removed for good will there be any chance at a decent top level of motorsport in America. This cheap, shoddy fraud of a 'league' isn't it, and never will be.

    Heck of a story, Anthony. They is all riled up but good. :lol:
  • Bad Dreams and Visions' for 200, Alex.
    And the answer is ' The IRL and Ethanol.
    To you, dahooey.
    What are two money losing enterprises?

    TOney says the IRL isn't profitable and will be shut down at the end of the 2012 season, if it makes it til then.
  • While it is possible Indycar could shut down after 2012, my guess is that was a bit of hyperbole by TG.

    Back to this ethanol issue. If domestic producers want Indycar to reconsider, pony up some money. In this modern world we live in, a handshake is just that, a handshake. Until the ink is on the contract, anything is still possible... and probably even after that, if the check is big enough.
  • The biggest piece of garbage on these posts is always what Stan says. He has nothing new to offer, never anything positive, and is bad for all fans of motorsports. Again, Stan you are the prime nominee for the Mike and Mike Just Shut Up award.
  • I'm actually starting to wonder if Stan actually is TG, or someone close to him. He posts his, to use his words, fetid garbage all over the IBJ just so he can watch people defend him. It makes him feel good.....

    I'm good enough. I'm strong enough.......and --- ---- -- people like me!!!
  • I rather think he enjoys watching some of you attempt to defend the un-defendable
  • SSD,

    Would that be c>rt/owrs/ccws? Because it was very indefensible.
  • Here's another thought: The IRL using ethanol is still good for U.S. ethanol producers. If interest is generated in ethanol as a result of the IRL (and that's a big if), then the first place someone in the U.S. will look for ethanol will be here, not Brazil. If any one producer relied on supplying the IRL to keep them afloat financially, they were doomed from the start. What they really wanted was the series to generate interest in their product. The series is still going to be doing just that, to the extent that it ever generated interest in ethanol (which is still a question, in my book).
  • compare photos of the month of May during the CART days to photos of the 4 days of May TOney has given you. Then keep your mouth shut and your fingers away from the keyboard.
  • One fear is that Apex-Brasil will use the IRL presence as a platform to get the U.S. 54-cent per gallon tarrif removed. That notion might seem a little ridiculous to some, but that's what the American ethanol interests are really afraid of.
  • Ethanol is almost as big a joke as the EARL. I'm all for decreasing the dependence on foreign oil but Ethanol was never the answer. I find it mildly amusing that once again the EARL braintrust didn't know the full story and signed on with Brazil. And one can only hope that 2012 is the last year for the abortion that is the EARL. Hey, won't that be Obama's last year? What a year...
  • Jeebus the koolaid keeps getting chugged.

    Anthony, I have to give it to you that at least you are consistent.


    The IRL: An Answer to a question nobody asked.

    Copyright: me. all rights reserved.
  • berwickguy Says:

    The biggest piece of garbage on these posts is always what Stan says. He has nothing new to offer, never anything positive, and is bad for all fans of motorsports.

    Hysterical. Literally. This rubbish coming from the lunatic that wants everybody that isn't a Hulmanista kool aid chugger banned because they are 'insulting'. :lol: Hypocrite much boy? Of course, to the earlistas, hypocrisy is embedded into the vishun and they see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    I however, do not want you banned. Your insults and delusions are funny, in a 'point at the dumb kid and laugh' kinda way.

    I have offered many positives: FTG being shipped to Gitmo, IMS being turned into a WalMart, and the immediate and permanent cessation of the 'league' to name just a few. You, however, have offered nothing but complaining like a foot-stomping Danicle.
    Do you ever stop and ask yourself why there is so much hatred that has lasted so long for Anton and his worthless folly? Or do you just like to watch yourself screech? (That last one was rhetorical. You'll probably still have to look that word up.)

    Hey Anthony, looks like Honda-san is bolting from F1 in the morning. Anyone that tells you this means their commitment to the 'league' will be even 'grater' because of this will be lying to you. :lol:
  • My, my, my, did I touch a nerve here or what? Life these days is caled hoping for the best and overcoming the negative reality of what we deal with on a daily basis. And you guys, Stan, Duh Hooey, Brett, and Southside Dave.....nipples on a boar hog.
  • Berwick guy: If'n you don;t like what Stan writes, then just ignore him. Or pick a fight you cannot win? :lol:

    TFF x 1000000000000000000000

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