Shell fueling INDYCAR’s future

Shell, like INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has been at the forefront of innovation and technology and this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida is no different.

That is because, all 27 race cars competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening event will run on Shell’s 100% renewable race fuel. It’s a first for a U.S.-based motorsports series.

Appropriately, the race is being contested on a street circuit – Shell’s investment in R&D ladders up to developing better fuels and lubricants for consumers where the knowledge gained from the track is transferred to road-going products. The 100% renewable race fuel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% compared to fossil-based gasoline.

“We have been working with motorsports technology for many years because we see this as an excellent innovation platform to try new technologies, test our products beyond their performance, and take the learnings and apply them to our product developments for the customers,” said Dr. Selda Gunsel, Vice President, Fuels & Lubricants Technology at Shell.

Shell is the official fuel, motor oil and lubricant sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Tested and ready for action

Twenty-seven racecars powered by the new sustainable race fuel recently tested on a natural-terrain road course in Thermal, California, to prepare for the rigors of the 17-race season.

The on-track sessions followed multiple months of testing on dynos at GM’s Performance and Racing Propulsion facility and Honda Performance Development. The high-octane fuel can meet the demanding needs of Chevrolet’s and Honda’s 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engines and INDYCAR fans should not expect to see any performance changes with the utilization of the new 100% renewable race fuel from Shell.

The engine manufacturers (Honda and Chevrolet) with the INDYCAR Series executed both performance and durability tests and Shell has received approval from both manufacturers.

“It’s a huge step for the series from a sustainability standpoint. Not easy to do and Shell has made that happen,” said two-time INDYCAR champion Josef Newgarden. “I thought the performance on the 100% renewable fuel was fantastic.”

International joint venture for sustainability

Shell’s innovative formula of second-generation ethanol, derived from the waste portion of sugarcane combined with renewable components obtained from non-food waste (supplied by a third party), is part of a joint venture between Shell and Cosan, with Raizen – Brazil’s leading manufacturer of sugarcane ethanol and the largest individual sugar exporter in the world – playing an important role in the supply process.

The second-generation fuel is produced from non-food waste.

“This is great for us because we don’t compete with the food chain,” said Dr. Selda Gunsel, Vice President, Fuels & Lubricants Technology at Shell. “We replaced the remaining component, the fossil-based gasoline, with a renewable component. There are absolutely no fossil-based molecules from a chemical engineering perspective in this formulation.”

Numbers to note

100 octane rating of Shell race fuel

1st U.S.-based motorsports series to run on 100% renewable race fuel

60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based gasoline*

18.5 U.S. gallons in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES fuel cell

2007 was when INDYCAR started using fuel-grade ethanol instead of petroleum-based methanol

2012 was when INDYCAR switched to an 85% fuel-grade ethanol blend

2 NTT INDYCAR SERIES long-time engine suppliers — Chevrolet and Honda

3.25 billion liters of sugarcane cellulosic ethanol Shell has purchased under a long-term agreement with Raízen

17 races in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, starting with the 19th race in series history in St. Petersburg, Florida

27 drivers entered in the race who will use the 100% renewable race fuel

28th season under INDYCAR sanction, featuring the 107th Indianapolis 500

2050 is the target for Shell to become a net-zero emissions company**

*Reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2005 baseline average gasoline as defined in the RFS. Estimations for Shell Fuel based on CA-GREET model values provided by supplier and published fuel pathways in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

**To reach this net-zero emissions target, our business plans will have to change as our customers’ needs evolve – current plans alone won’t get us there. There is significant risk that we won’t reach this target if society isn’t at NZE in 2050.


What they’re saying

“We should be shouting that from mountaintops. It’s very cool what Shell has been able to provide us, and I think the Chevrolet engine has adapted quite well to it.”
                                                           — two-time INDYCAR champion Josef Newgarden

“We’re glad that Shell has been able to bring the renewable race fuel into INDYCAR now, so we are ready to go and help the planet.”
                                               — four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves

“Penske Corporation is a global industry leader like Shell, and we are focusing on sustainability and decarbonization with the ultimate goal of zero carbon emissions.”
                                                                        — Roger Penske, Penske Corp. Chairman

“With industry leading organizations like Shell and Penske sharing the same ambition for a cleaner energy future, remarkable progress can be made.” 
                                       — Mark Miles, President & CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.

“The fuel and lubricant, and energy solutions developed through our strategic relationship with INDYCAR and Penske Corporation can ultimately help accelerate reduced carbon emissions from transport in many sectors of the economy.”
            — Carlos Maurer, Executive Vice President of Sectors and Decarbonization, Shell

“Global demand for sustainable fuels is growing. Combining Raízen’s innovative sugarcane waste technology with Shell’s global distribution network and customer relationships will help to meet that demand.”
                          — Andrew Smith, Executive Vice President for Trading and Supply, Shell

“We will continue to innovate and work hand in hand with the engine manufacturers with whatever sustainability initiatives come along the way. We at Shell are very excited to see how this journey unfolded from taking fuel innovation from the lab to the dyno test to the track.”
                                    — Bassem Kheireddin, Technology Manager of Motorsports, Shell

Shell Pennzoil PR