INDYCARS will switch to renewable fuels

In 2023, open-wheel racing fans with oil in their veins might need a transfusion. Two days before Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, Shell Oil Company and Penske Corp. announced from next year that Shell will produce 100% renewable fuel for the NTT INDY



“To think that we’re going to be the first series to have truly fully renewable fuel in the future will be amazing,” said Roger Penske, president of Penske Corp. during a webcast with reporters on Thursday.

Penske Corp. owns the NTT INDYCAR series, Indy Lights, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and IMS Productions.

Part of the racers’ new fuel power comes from real food.

“Our fuel composition includes a significant portion of second-generation ethanol derived from biomass, such as that made from sugar cane. The rest of the composition is made up of renewable components derived from the food base,” explained Dr. Selda Gunsel, Vice President of Technology Shell, on the webcast “This gives us a low carbon fuel that is 100% renewable allowing for at least a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to gasoline based on fossil fuels.”

Replacing the gasoline portion and upgrading from first- to second-generation ethanol provides what Gunsel described as a “significant reduction in carbon footprint compared to current fuel by 40 percent.”

From next season, all cars taking part in the series will run on Shell’s renewable fuel, which will become the official fuel of the NTT INDYCARS series.

Prior to making this statement, the fuel was put to the test by Chevrolet and Honda, who make INDYCAR race engines for the Penske and Honda teams, respectively.

“We basically had to put these two manufacturers at ease from a durability, reliability and also a power perspective,” Penske said.

The upcoming renewable fuel adds to other sustainability measures underway by the companies and their partners.

“With industry-leading collaborations like Shell and Penske sharing the same ambitions for a cleaner energy future, remarkable progress can be made and I think this is the first proof of that,” he told reporters. Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.

These movements include:

  • Synthetic carbon neutral motor oil produced by Pennzoil from natural gas. Oil is installed in Chevrolet and Honda Indycar engines.
  • A 150 kW high power electric charger was installed on the IMS grounds in coordination with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Shell Recharge Solutions.
  • All tires used in practice, qualifying and the Indianapolis 500 race will be transported from a central Indiana warehouse to the track using Penske Truck Leasing’s fleet of electric vehicle Freightliner eCascadia .
  • Bridgestone Americas, owner of the Firestone brand, supplies tires made from natural rubber derived from domestically grown guayule for the Indy 500 Pit Stop challenge.
  • Beginning with the Detroit Grand Prix next week, INDYCARS will provide teams with biodiesel to move their transporters to the track from their headquarters and put them back on the track for the remainder of the season. Carriers will move race cars along with items such as pit and paddock equipment and spare parts.

Friday’s sustainability announcements come a day after Shell and Pennzoil-Quaker State Company revealed a multi-year extension and expansion of their sponsorship deal with Team Penske, the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to Shell’s renewable fuel being named the official fuel of the NTT INDYCAR series from 2023, the new agreement also sees Shell-Pennzoil continuing its sponsorship of Team Penske’s NASC.

The AR and INDYCAR programs, including more than 30 races as title sponsor in the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang driven by 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano, and Pennzoil will continue to be the “Official Lubricant Supplier for Team Penske.

Additionally, Shell and Pennzoil will also be primary sponsors of two of Team Penske’s Indianapolis 500 entries, Pennzoil will continue to sponsor the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard NASCAR XFINITY Series race at IMS in July, and Shell and Pennzoil will continue to serve as the preferred fuel and lubricant supplier for Penske Transportation Solutions and Penske Automotive


Penske and Shell began their relationship in 1981, extended it in 2017 before announcing this new extension.

“It’s not just a partnership, but a business-to-business alliance,” Penske said during Thursday’s webcast.

It’s an alliance that not only has been maintained, but has a clear focus on sustainability to improve the impact of motor racing on the environment.

About Melanie Tweed

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