The NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ era of sustainability was showcased in 2023 with advanced fuel technology and innovative solutions for sustainable tire production among other initiatives celebrated on Green Sports Day, Friday, Oct. 6.
The season featured the debut of Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel, making the NTT INDYCAR SERIES the first U.S.-based racing series to use 100 percent renewable race fuel. At least 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions were reduced compared to fossil-based gasoline.
Second-generation ethanol made from sugarcane waste is blended with other biofuels to create this renewable product used at all series events. The process that took over a year to develop is part of a joint venture between Shell and Cosan with Raizen, Brazil’s second-largest fuel distribution company.
The result met the demands of the race teams, whose cars reach nearly 240 mph while traveling 500 miles in the iconic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Additionally, all INDYCAR transporters, including those of the teams, used 100% Renewable Diesel as they journeyed across North America. Renewable Diesel is made from vegetable and animal fats and waste cooking oils that are refined. It reduces greenhouse emissions by up to 85 percent compared to traditional diesel, and it is considered a “drop in” fuel, meaning no alterations need to be made to the vehicle/engine. The performance meets or exceeds traditional fossil-based diesel fuels.
Firestone debuted its Firestone Firehawk guayule race tire during the 2022 season, and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES used the scalable, sustainable and domestic source of natural rubber in tires on all street-circuit events this year -- another example of its commitment to sustainability.
Guayule is a drought-resistant, heat-tolerant woody desert shrub native to northern Mexico and the southwestern part of this country. Natural rubber is extracted from the branches, bark and roots of the shrub. It is not a commercial crop, so the shrub does not compete with traditional food source crops.
Bridgestone race tire engineers decided to use the guayule rubber in the entire sidewall because that area is made up of the most natural rubber. This allows Firestone to maintain the same quality and performance as its traditional racing tires. Bridgestone aims to commercialize the use of guayule rubber in tires by 2030.
INDYCAR’s environmental focus goes way beyond fuel and tires.
Again this year, Safety-Kleen recycled automotive fluids for INDYCAR as it has for more than 30 years, and its efficiency remained unmatched. In 2023, the company collected 19,000 pounds of reclaimed fluid waste for Penske Entertainment, to be recycled into new oils, solvents and lubricants.
In a move toward hybridization, INDYCAR is on the path to using hybrid technology with its 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine for the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The program is being developed by Ilmor, Chevrolet and Honda.
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear became the first motorsports event to receive gold certification with the Council for Responsible Sport, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to be a leader in venue sustainability.
Penske Entertainment, which owns INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, is working alongside industry-leading consultant WM Sustainability Services to complete a comprehensive baseline study of the entire series, which covers all three scopes of emissions. The effort would not be possible without data input from the sport’s entire ecosystem, including vendors, stakeholders, partners and fans.