DI WARM UP: Pumping Unleaded With Corey Schweitzer
Corey Schweitzer knows high octane fuel is the lifeblood of drag racing, but he’s adamant that lead-loaded fuels aren’t the only way to get the octane levels required by today’s top racers.
“We’re not in a green sport, we all realize that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make something that isn’t bad for the people using it,” starts Schweitzer, part of the ownership group of Fuse Fuels, along with brother, E.J., and Vince Castillo.
With a long history in motocross racing, Schweitzer and company came together in an effort to fill the void left by Shell Race Fuels when they departed the market with their own high-performance fuel offerings – focused on unleaded products.
“At first we were just answering the bell, providing products geared towards the motocross market where we were personally involved,” explains Schweitzer, “but then we decided there was a huge street market – kids with blowers, nitrous – who want 116 octane fuels, and the more we produced the more response we had.”
Response has most recently come by way of multiple top-tier PDRA Pro Nitrous teams looking for not only a competitive advantage, but also a solution to fuel-related issues specific to their big cubic inch, nitrous-huffing mountain motors.
“It really got started when we had a few top Pro Nitrous guys coming to us with problems they’d been having with certain fuels,” continues Schweitzer. “The more we looked into it the more we found that some of the fuels being used, honestly, just didn’t like nitrous. Many of them wouldn’t pass a standardized non-gumming test; they’d fail it. Then when you add nitrous to it – nitrous is 50-percent oxygen – it only makes things worse. We worked with outside sources, sent fuels to independent labs and ran tests to see what we needed to do to produce something better, something that would perform better – that wouldn’t gum up these engines.”
Once the necessary research, development and testing had been done, Schweitzer began providing an unleaded 125-octane Fuse Fuel to teams like that of PDRA Pro Nitrous dominator Jason Harris, and the results speak for themselves. Harris, amongst other Pat Musi Racing Engines customers, has dipped into the 3.7-second range at over 200mph in his feared ’68 Firebird and won the first three PDRA events of the year using Fuse Fuels.
“Right now, we’re very happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish,” says Schweitzer. “We’re having a lot of success in the nitrous racing ranks, and we’re glad to be doing it without the use of lead. Any octane fuel – 123, 125 – any octane that you can make leaded, we can make it unleaded.
“Again, it’s not that we’re trying to go green by promoting the use of unleaded fuels,” he continues. “There are other benefits to it; when you take the lead out the fuel actually becomes much more stable. Meaning it lasts longer, it isn’t depleted by lead – our fuels are not photosensitive. Light doesn’t effect it; continued exposure to sunlight like in the staging lanes won’t attack the octane of the fuel and deplete it.”
Performance and stability issues aside, the ramifications to a racer’s health and wellbeing can’t be taken lightly.
“I’ve sucked up enough lead in my life racing motocross and sitting on the starting line, but the big problem is that once lead gets in your bloodstream there is no way to get it out,” Schweitzer explains. “95-percent of the lead that makes it into your lungs goes into your bloodstream. A lot of people think it gets burned up in the combustion process, but it doesn’t – it gets kicked out of the engine. Lead wants to attach itself to things – like valves, piston domes, etc. Manufacturers put something called lead scavengers in fuels to kick it out, and that’s why you and I end up breathing it.
“There’s not one organ in the body that lead doesn’t attack,” he continues. “It lowers IQ, it’s linked to all sorts of behavioral disorders – it’s a nasty substance. It’s a wonder why it’s still so commonly used, but we’re firm believers that it’s not necessary.”
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