Cooling effect is seen as one of the advantages of the fuel. Dirt LateModel racer Scott Bloomquist switched to VP's Late Model Plus fuel inearly 2003. "The cooling effect allows us to run at lower enginetemperatures," Bloomquist remarked. "That's important because ourengines have high compression, a lot of power, and we operate real closeto the edge. It's more forgiving under extreme conditions and gives us agreater safety blanket against detonation."

The Octane Debate

Octane numbers are common knowledge, but there are more numbers thanthose seen on the yellow stickers on the gas pump. The common octanenumber is the product of two designations and is actually the average ofthese two numbers.

Octane is the term given to a fuel's ability to resist detonation. Thenumbers are derived from standard testing. A Research Octane Number anda Motor Octane Number are added, then divided by two to give consumersof gasoline for everyday driving a measurement of fuel performance withrespect to detonation.

"We look at the Motor Octane Number," said Burns. "The Research Octanetest is one used to simulate cruising, which isn't what race engines arebuilt for. Race cars understand the Motor Octane Number better."

Burns added that some companies will sell their products based on theResearch Octane Number, which is generally the higher of the twonumbers.

An important consideration of an octane number is how it relates to yourengine. Once you arrive at the octane number that will prevent yourengine from detonation, there is no need to deviate. A higher octanenumber will not increase performance.

Unleaded Fuels

Most of the oval track world continues to use leaded racing fuels. Aperson new to the sport might wonder how that can happen. In the samesense, they may wonder how long it will stay that way.

Burns was asked if unleaded racing fuels, which do exist in some formsof the sport, are the future of oval track racing. It's a yes or nosituation.

"It's yes in some ways because people think it's coming and has tohappen," said Burns. "But, think about this. Airplanes are designed torun leaded fuels and there's no move to get planes to run unleaded.Leaded fuels provide a bigger window against detonation and pre-ignitionproblems. We're running carburetors on many of the engines being used inracing. It isn't the sophisticated systems that carmakers have beenbuilding. Unleaded fuels are good for those applications, but they'renot good for carburetors and the types of engines we're running in ovaltrack racing.