"The Clean Air Act gives race cars a fuel exemption. We can build racingcars to use leaded fuels because it's not covered. The engines used inclosed-course applications are treated differently.
"There doesn't have to be a change in the regulations. Airplanes arebuilt to fly with leaded fuels and you can't change planes overnight. Itwould take years. Why spend money on something that's not broken?"
Also, the sport is in no hurry to bring about the change. In the past,issues such as noise suppression have been addressed in anticipation ofpending government involvement. The sport is not likely to voluntarilylook into the idea of unleaded racing fuels. Canada, though, hasmandated unleaded racing fuel as of last December.
Time and sunlight rank as the biggest enemies to a racer's fuel supply.Gasoline has a limited shelf life, so it's important to give it propercare.
The barrels of fuel are filled...
The barrels of fuel are filled and tightly sealed for their tripthroughout the United States or around the world. Users need to makesure the barrels are resealed after use to prolong the life of theproduct.
"Don't let ultraviolet rays hit the fuel," said Burns. "It will causethe lead to fall out of the composition. Take some fuel, put it in ajar, and set it in a window. You'll see how quickly the lead separatesfrom the fuel."
For that reason, storing fuel in clear containers is never a good idea.Many racing product suppliers sell plastic fuel jugs, usually red orsome other opaque color, for storing fuel.
Keeping the fuel fresh also requires using it soon after you acquire it.You cannot expect the fuel you purchased at the beginning of the year tohave the same efficiency at the end of the year. The lighter elements ofthe composition will be gone by the time you get around to using it. Thebest teams calculate fuel usage and buy accordingly. Fuel should also bekept in sealed containers for obvious reasons and stored in areas notsusceptible to moisture. Like the UV rays, temperature can be harmful toa fuel's efficiency, so a cool storage area is helpful.
Like most fuel manufacturers, the products offered by VP are availablein different colors. The color has nothing to do with the performancecapability. "We dye it," Burns said. "It takes one pint of dye for every25,000 gallons. It was the surgeon general's idea some time ago. Now, itjust helps identify it. You can tell a fuel by its color and smell, andthe smell will change at different temperatures."
The fuel supplier and engine builder work together in productdevelopment, and that partnership extends all the way to the track. "Thefuel supplier needs to know everything, like how hot or cold the carruns, the rpm range that's expected, and so on. The things thatdetermine vaporization of fuel need to be addressed to make the carperform," said Burns.
Racers looking for the best performance need to know that the fuelsupplier and engine builder are on his side. After all, their productsare being put to the test the instant the driver turns on the engine.