IZOD IndyCar Series

The State of Sustainable Racing 2012 Case Study


The Indianapolis motor speedway oval track was built in 1909, and the first “500” mile race was run on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911. The race has gone from having 46 different car makers and car types to a racing series that utilizes one car type raced by different teams and drivers. Top speed for an Indy car is currently 226mph. IndyCar is claiming to be the number one sustainable race series in the US based primarily on the use of “renewable fuel” 98% Ethanol.

  • Vehicle type: For 2012, there are three engine suppliers (Honda, Chevy, Lotus). Engines are 2.2L V6 turbocharged and produce up to 700 horsepower with an RPM limit of 12,000. All engines run E85 fuel. Prior, all cars ran E100.
  • Fuel/Energy Source: E85 Ethanol
  • Years in Production:  Originated 1996; 2007 to E85; 2012 1st year of new car platform
  • Sponsors: Big name sponsors. Complete list at http://indycar.com/Sponsors.

What has recently changed:

  • IZOD became the new naming sponsor in 2010.
  • The Dallara chassis that had been in use since 2007, has been replaced a new core-rolling Dallara chassis. It’s called the “IndyCar Safety Cell.”


Starting in 2007, IndyCar advertised “100% Fuel Grade Ethanol” – the first competitive series to utilize renewable fuel. The mixture is actually 98% ethanol and 2% gasoline for races held in the United States. The fuel is provided by Lifeline Foods of Saint Joseph, based in Missouri. The additives satisfied the U.S. government’s requirements that the alcohol be unfit for human consumption, and visible color was added in case of a fire. The 2010 São Paulo Indy 300, held in Brazil and outside of the U.S. regulations, utilized a full E100 mixture for the first instance in the sport.

Additionally, the IndyCar supply chain is contributing to sustainability in the following ways:

  • Firestone is now using non-lead wheel weights. It has always has recycled all race tires, installed recycling containers at the tracks, and is certified by the EPA SmartWay program in the transportation of tires.
  • Firestone parent Bridgestone Americas has improved plant energy efficiency by 4% and water use efficiency by 14% while reducing land filled waste rates by 6% and increasing waste recycling rates by 2%.
  • Honda named America’s most fuel-efficient car company.
  • Safety-Kleen.com is a global leader in environmental services. They provide safe, environmentally responsible disposal of automotive liquids both at the racetrack and at all the team’s race shops around the US.


Indy Car Lap and Top Speeds 2009 – 2011

Year Driver Team Time – 500 miles Top Speed
2009 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 3:19:34 224.86
2010 Dario Franchitti Ganassi Racing 3:05:37 226.99
2011 Dan Wheldon Herta Autosport 2:56:11 226.49

Learn More

IndyCar Website

Research by Dominican University’s Green MBA Program

Authors: Jake Baker, Robin Carew, Diana Connolly, Jack Decker

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