5 Commonly Used Fuels in Racing Cars

Racing cars use a wide variety of fuels (sometimes also referred as racing fuels). Some Commonly Used Fuels in Racing Cars are given below.

Commonly Used Fuels in Racing Cars

Leaded gasoline

Gasoline, or petrol, is a transparent, petroleum-derived liquid that is used primarily as a fuel in spark ignited internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. One additive that is used to increase octane number of gasoline is lead. However, use of leaded gasoline has been banned in several countries, since it causes neurological harm to humans (specially to children).


Nitro-methane is an organic compound with the chemical formula CH3NO2. It is the simplest organic nitro compound. It is a polar liquid commonly used as a solvent in a variety of industrial applications such as in extractions, as a reaction medium, and as a cleaning solvent. As an intermediate in organic synthesis, it is used widely in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, explosives, fibers, and coatings. Nitro-methane is used as a fuel additive in various motor-sports and hobbies, e.g. Top Fuel drag racing and miniature internal combustion engines in radio control, control line and free flight model aircraft.

Methanol fuel

Methanol is an alternative fuel for internal combustion and other engines, either in combination with gasoline or directly (“neat”). It is used in racing cars in many countries. In the U.S., methanol fuel has received less attention than ethanol fuel as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels. In general, ethanol is less toxic and has higher energy density, although methanol is less expensive to produce sustainably and is a less expensive way to reduce the carbon footprint. However, for optimizing engine performance, fuel availability, toxicity and political advantage, a blend of ethanol, methanol and petroleum is likely to be preferable to using any of these individual substances alone. Methanol may be made from hydrocarbon or renewable resources, in particular natural gas and biomass respectively. It can also be synthesized from CO2 (carbon dioxide) and hydrogen.

Ethanol fuel

Ethanol fuel is ethyl alcohol, the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, used as fuel. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a bio-fuel additive for gasoline. The first production car running entirely on ethanol was the Fiat 147, introduced in 1978 in Brazil by Fiat. Ethanol is commonly made from biomass such as corn or sugarcane.


A nitrous oxide engine is an engine in which the oxygen required for burning the fuel stems from the decomposition of nitrous oxide (N2O) rather than air. The system increases the internal combustion engine’s power output by allowing fuel to be burned at a higher-than-normal rate, because of the higher partial pressure of oxygen injected into the fuel mixture. Nitrous injection systems may be “dry”, where the nitrox oxide is injected separately from gasoline, or “wet” in which additional gasoline is carried into the engine along with the nitrous. Nitrous oxide systems may not be permitted for street or highway use, depending on local regulations. Nitrous oxide use is permitted in certain classes of auto racing. Reliable operation of an engine with nitrous injection requires careful attention to the strength of engine components and to the accuracy of the mixing systems, otherwise destructive detonations may occur. Nitrous oxide injection systems were applied as early as World War II for certain aircraft engines.

Enjoyed reading Racing car fuels, also read heat Engines and their classification.

1 thought on “5 Commonly Used Fuels in Racing Cars

Leave a Reply