SOURCE: BBI International

BBI International

June 20, 2011 11:34 ET

NASCAR CEO in the Driver Seat for Ethanol

Brian France, NASCAR's Chairman and CEO, Exploded Into the Collective Consciousness of the Ethanol Industry in 2010 -- When He Announced NASCAR Would Fuel Its Race Cars With E15

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwire - Jun 20, 2011) - France will talk more about NASCAR's historic move to E15 on June 28, the first full day of the Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) in Indianapolis, produced by BBI International. While important, the use of E15 is just one of the facets of a six-year deal to promote ethanol at NASCAR events.

In the weeks leading up to the FEW, Ethanol Producer Magazine had a conversation with Brian France about NASCAR, sponsorship and E15. Here's what he had to say.

Q: Sponsorship in your sport is more intentional than any other sport and your fan base really seems to embrace your sponsors. Why do you think that is?
A: Year after year, NASCAR fans rate as the most brand-loyal fans in sports. They understand the critical role sponsorship plays in putting on events and running race teams. Therefore, NASCAR fans make it a point to purchase partner products and services. In fact, according to a recent independent study published in the Sports Business Journal, NASCAR fans ranked first amongst the major sports leagues in five sponsorship categories, including 'recommend,' 'regularly consume' and 'consider trying' when asked how they support sponsors. Also, Forbes recently listed NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon as three of the top 10 influential athletes in American sports today, based upon data from E-Poll and Nielsen Media Research. Johnson topped the list, beating out the biggest names in sports. That is a great testament to the power of our sport and our fan base.

Q: You've pioneered many of NASCAR's biggest partnerships including relationships with SIRIUS Satellite Radio and many television networks. What makes NASCAR so appealing to these media outlets?
A: Our brand-loyal fan base has consistently made NASCAR the No. 2-rated regular season sport on television as more than 100 million unique viewers tune in to NASCAR programming each year on FOX, ABC, ESPN, TNT and SPEED. Combining that with the thrilling action on the race track makes NASCAR a very compelling product for our media partners. Our broadcast partners are drawn to the great content and loyal audience that only NASCAR can deliver week in and week out. With fan interest and television ratings on the upswing, we've got great momentum heading into another exciting chase for the championship this fall.

Q: Introducing a new fuel blend into the highest performance automobiles in the world is a big deal. How rigorous was the fuel testing employed by NASCAR and the various race teams with the new Sunoco Green E15 fuel?
A: It was very rigorous. The testing was done in several phases and there was extensive formulation work done by our official fuel partner Sunoco. Many months of testing was first done on the dyno to check performance and endurance. Once the dyno testing checked out, we had extensive live on-track testing done, running thousands of miles at race speeds to make sure we would be in good shape before we announced the partnership last fall and debuted the fuel blend this spring at the Daytona 500. The testing process involved our R&D team, multiple race teams, drivers, engine builders, as well as Sunoco. It has been truly a team effort across the board.

Q: I've heard some teams are reporting increased horsepower with Sunoco Green E15. What can you tell us about that?
A: Early on in the dyno testing, we heard there was additional horsepower, which was encouraging. This is also now being seen on the track. We're hearing all good things in the garage on the E15. The drivers and crew chiefs are excited and pleased about the transition.

Brian will be speaking at the 27th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, June 27-30, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. For more info visit www.fuelethanolworkshop.com

Read more of this conversation at http://www.ethanolproducer.com/articles/7868/the-france-factor

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