Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pickens, Granatelli Promote CNG Fuel at Indy 500

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Pickens, Granatelli Promote CNG Fuel at Indy 500

Article excerpt

By Jack Z. Smith Fort Worth Star-Telegram Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and Indianapolis 500 racing legend Andy Granatelli are teaming up to promote natural gas-powered vehicles. Their promotional arena will be none other than the famed Brickyard of Indianapolis, the scene of the annual Indy 500 race that will be held Sunday. Mesa Limited Partnership, the Dallas- based oil and gas company that Pickens heads, is associate sponsor for a race car that will bear the letters "CNG" on one side. That stands for compressed natural gas, which Pickens calls "the fuel of the future." The car will not actually be powered by CNG, but instead by methanol, a high-octane natural gas derivative that will be used by all the race cars competing at Indianapolis on Sunday. But Vince Granatelli, son of Andy Granatelli, said his Vince Granatelli Racing team considers CNG a potential racing fuel for future Indy 500s. "We're looking at all the possibilities of CNG and we're trying to make the public aware it's available," said Gra- natelli, whose famous father is a consultant to Vince Granatelli Racing. The car bearing the CNG label will be driven by Arie Luyendyk, who won last year's Indy race and finished 14th in qualifying this year. Andy Granatelli achieved fame for his success in putting together top racing teams for the Indiananpolis 500 and later as a promoter of STP, an engine additive. Pickens, who has converted his 1991 Cadillac Seville to run on CNG, said promotional efforts such as the race car sponsorship are needed to raise public awareness of the fuel. But how many people who see "CNG" on the Granatelli car will even be aware that it refers to compressed natural gas? Pickens responded to that question with another question. Before STP was promoted, "how many people knew what STP was?" he said. The Indy 500 race will at least serve as a starting point in helping promote CNG, Pickens said. He said the idea evolved from conversations he had with Andy Gra- natelli beginning several months ago. At a party at Granatelli's home outside Santa Barbara, Calif., Pickens asked Granatelli if he had ever considered using CNG as a racing fuel. Granatelli had not. "When I got back to Dallas, I sent him a bunch of information on it," Pickens said. Both Pickens and Vince Granatelli declined to say how much Mesa paid to help sponsor the Indy car. Granatelli said the total cost of fielding a single race car may run $8 million to $9 million. RCA is the prime sponsor for the Granatelli racer and there are numerous other much-smaller sponsors, he said. Pickens has an obvious reason for touting CNG. …
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