I get a lot of e-mail about the use of fuel additives and blending fuels. Propylene oxide is usually at the top of the list. It has quite a history in racing and gets a lot of undue credit for some ridiculous performance claims. Another thing I’ve received calls and E ‘s on and its quite surprising is the re-emergence of nitrobenzene. This stuff is a serious health hazard as both a skin absorbing toxin and an inhalant toxin before its combusted and even after its combusted. It’s fatal and is banned in every form of competition. So stay away from that stuff. As a matter of fact if you know someone who has some, be sure it’s in a SERIOUS container as it is quite literally poison and has a ridiculously high boiling point so that stuff is not going anywhere. If you buy some and don’t use it, you’ll own it for the next thousand years.
But what’s worse is chemicals with low boiling points. Propylene oxide has a boiling point of only 93 degrees. Here’s why that’s important. I had a customer leave a gallon in his trunk between races. When he went to open the jug the next week…. it was empty. It had all vaporized during the week. Guess who was breathing it in all week as he drove his car around. Bad news. This stuff gets credited with lung problems and kidney failure, so for your health and the health of others…find your power elsewhere.
Lets touch on the “Cheater Fuels” for a moment. These are the fuels now banned by the NHRA. My inside source says its comprised of a four part bonding agent with excellent masking capabilities as far as testing goes, which allows it to pass tech. But the masking agents may get it past the equipment check, but its still as much of a threat to humanity as cyanide. I thought he was being a little over dramatic (most chemists are…sorry for stereotyping) until I attended a dyno session last year with a team thinking about using the supposed “cheater fuel”. We made a few dyno pulls on the stuff and the vapor was so toxic emanating from the dyno cell it was just intolerable. The fumes made the roof of my mouth numb in just a few minutes and it stayed like that for a day and a half. I called my chemist friend back and apologized for giggling at him. Now there’s something wrong with that picture. We elected to pass and capped the jug to this day. No race win is worth long term health problems.
Shortly after that, I was standing on the starting line at Indy and I could smell the difference between the guys running it and the guys that weren’t. Kind of like after you get sick from drinking or eating an excess amount of your favorite beverage or ice cream, how that smell now has the capability of making you sick…same deal…I could spot that stuff on a moments notice after that day as could the others that were at the session.
Propylene oxide is used as an accelerator so it allows more complete combustion, you will pick up an increase in power (albeit minor) but it won’t be a world of difference.
Blending Nitro methane is a power producer but you need around 10 percent to really see a difference and don’t forget a timing change is in order as you increase the blend percentage.
When blending alcohol and gasoline, there’s a trick, as that stuff doesn’t really like to mix, yet we have circle track designs that successfully use a 50/50 blend on short tracks and a performance improvement is in the 5-6 percent range. You just have to be aware of the new fuel delivery requirements and circulate the fuel a lot to keep it mixed without cycling the “lights” out of it.
I talked a bit about this stuff on our video, but I still get some confusing E’s, hope this clears some of them up.
Thanks for reading.
Here’s to the new millennium where we keep the chemicals where they belong: Under the bathroom sink and off the racetrack.