Can I Use NASCAR Racing Fuel in My Car?

NASCAR races are a spectacle, and the fuel powering these machines is made for their specific performance needs. Sunoco Green E15, the official NASCAR fuel, is a specialized blend designed for high-speed races. Many car enthusiasts wonder if this powerful fuel would enhance their regular vehicle’s performance.

Using NASCAR fuel in regular cars isn’t advisable. While it’s engineered for racing conditions with high octane levels, introducing it to standard vehicles might lead to engine complications. Always adhere to the fuel recommendations for your specific car.

This article, and others we have linked below, takes a look into the intricacies of NASCAR fuel, exploring whether it’s a good idea to pour it into your everyday car.

can i use NASCAR racing fuel in my car
Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group /

What is NASCAR Fuel?

NASCAR vehicles run on Sunoco Green E15, a high-performance racing fuel specially formulated for the sport’s demands. This fuel is 98 octane, a rating not typically available at regular gas stations.

Comprising 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol, Green E15 was introduced in NASCAR to push for greener and more sustainable racing.

Ethanol is produced from corn, making this blend more environmentally friendly than traditional racing fuels. The high octane and ethanol content optimize combustion, allowing the engines to produce maximum horsepower during races.

However, it’s worth noting that this fuel’s formulation caters to racing cars’ unique specifications and may not be suited for standard road vehicles.

Differences Between NASCAR Fuel and Regular Gasoline (200 words)

The fuel used in NASCAR and the gasoline you pump into your everyday vehicle exhibit significant distinctions:

  1. Octane Level: NASCAR’s Sunoco Green E15 boasts a high octane rating of 98. Most regular gas stations offer octane levels ranging from 87 to 93. Octane measures a fuel’s resistance to knocking or pinging during combustion. High-performance engines, like those in NASCAR, require higher octane to function optimally.
  2. Ethanol Content: While regular gasoline might contain up to 10% ethanol (E10), NASCAR’s fuel contains 15% ethanol (E15). Ethanol helps in boosting octane and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but its concentration is meticulously chosen for each application.
  3. Additives: Standard gasoline contains additives to clean engine components, enhance fuel stability, and reduce emissions. NASCAR fuel, being performance-oriented, might possess a different set of additives to prioritize engine performance and reliability during races.
  4. Purpose: The primary aim of regular gasoline is to provide a balance of efficiency, longevity, and performance. In contrast, NASCAR fuel is tailored for raw performance, ensuring racing cars achieve top speeds and maintain them for prolonged periods.

Table of differences between NASCAR Fuel and Regular Gasoline

FeatureNASCAR Fuel (Sunoco Green E15)Regular Gasoline
Octane Level98Ranges from 87 to 93
Ethanol Content15% (E15)Up to 10% (E10)
AdditivesPerformance-orientedEfficiency and cleaning focused
PurposeRaw performance for racingBalanced for everyday use
PriceMore expensiveStandard pricing
AvailabilityRacing circuits & select locationsWidely available
Environmental ImpactReduced emissions due to higher ethanol contentVaried based on regulations and area

Fuel Performance in Road Cars

NASCAR vehicles are optimized to utilize the high octane levels of their specific fuel for maximum power and efficiency. On the other hand, most road cars are designed to operate efficiently on regular gasoline.

Pouring NASCAR fuel into a typical road car might not yield a noticeable difference in terms of power or acceleration. In fact, it could even reduce performance if the vehicle isn’t tuned to handle such fuel. The vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU) is calibrated for standard fuel types, and introducing a different fuel might confuse the system.

The higher ethanol content in NASCAR fuel, which is beneficial in a racing context, might not be suitable for road cars not designed for E15 or higher ethanol mixtures. Using fuels with a higher ethanol concentration than recommended can lead to issues such as reduced fuel economy, engine knocking, and potential long-term engine damage.

It’s essential to remember that each vehicle comes with manufacturer recommendations for fuel type, and not following these specifications can lead to reduced engine longevity and voided warranties.

can i use NASCAR racing fuel in my car
Editorial credit: Steve Mann /

Safety Implications and Warnings

Using NASCAR fuel in road cars also brings about safety concerns. Given that NASCAR fuel is designed for high-speed, high-performance environments, it possesses certain characteristics that may not be safe for regular road use.

  1. Combustion Rate: The rapid combustion rate that is an asset in racing might lead to premature ignition (or knocking) in a standard car engine. This can lead to engine wear and even catastrophic engine damage over time.
  2. Vapor Lock Risk: High-performance fuels like those used in NASCAR have a tendency to vaporize in the fuel line under certain conditions, a phenomenon called vapor lock. This can starve the engine of fuel, causing it to stall unexpectedly, which is a significant hazard on public roads.
  3. Compatibility with Fuel System Components: The ethanol content and other additives in NASCAR fuel can be corrosive to certain materials commonly found in standard fuel systems. This can lead to fuel leaks, which are both a performance and a significant safety concern.
  4. Environmental Concerns: The additives and specific compounds in NASCAR fuel, while designed for race performance, might produce emissions that are not as environmentally friendly as those from standard road car fuels. This can increase the car’s environmental footprint and may even contravene local emissions regulations.

Introducing NASCAR fuel into a regular car without proper modifications can effect the safety of the vehicle. It can lead to unexpected performance issues, potential breakdowns, and even hazardous situations while driving. Always adhere to manufacturer guidelines and local regulations when considering fuel options.

Long-Term Effects on the Engine

Engines in our day-to-day vehicles aren’t designed to handle the intensity and unique characteristics of NASCAR fuels. So, if you were to persistently use NASCAR fuel in a standard car, here’s what could possibly happen.

  1. Engine Wear: The elevated combustion rates of NASCAR fuel can result in premature ignition, colloquially termed as “knocking”. This repetitive knocking can gradually wear down the engine components, shortening the engine’s lifespan.
  2. Corrosion: NASCAR fuel, particularly because of its ethanol content and other specific additives, might not be compatible with the internal components of a regular car’s engine. This can result in corrosion, especially in the fuel lines and the fuel pump.
  3. Deposits: Over time, residues from the NASCAR fuel can accumulate in various parts of the engine, such as the combustion chamber and on the spark plugs. This can degrade the engine’s performance and might necessitate more frequent servicing and cleaning.
  4. Reduced Fuel Efficiency: Given that NASCAR fuel is optimized for power and not necessarily for efficiency, a regular car might experience reduced miles per gallon, leading to more frequent refueling and potentially higher expenses in the long run.
  5. Potential Warranty Issues: Using a fuel not recommended by the car’s manufacturer could void the vehicle’s warranty. If any engine-related issues arise from the use of NASCAR fuel, they might not be covered under the warranty.

Racing Fuels: Are Any Suitable for Regular Cars?

The racing world uses a variety of specialized fuels tailored to maximize vehicle performance. These fuels differ significantly from the gasoline we pump into our everyday cars.

  1. Ethanol Blends: Many racing circuits, including IndyCar, utilize ethanol-based fuels. E85, a mix of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, offers high octane and more power. It’s environmentally friendlier, and some road cars, known as flex-fuel vehicles, can run on it.
  2. Methanol: Used in drag racing and in earlier days of IndyCar, methanol burns cooler and can produce more power than gasoline. However, it’s not suitable for standard engines without modifications due to its corrosive nature.
  3. Nitromethane: Predominantly used in drag racing, this fuel is incredibly powerful but far too aggressive for a regular car.
  4. Diesel: Some racing categories, especially endurance races, have cars running on diesel. Diesel road cars are common, and this fuel is commercially available for them.
  5. Electricity: With Formula E’s emergence, electric power is a growing trend in racing. Electric cars are becoming more commonplace on our roads, representing a sustainable future.

While some racing fuels might work in regular cars, especially flex-fuel vehicles, others are strictly for the racetrack. Always consult with a professional before attempting to use alternative fuels.


Fuel types in the world of NASCAR and other racing events have been specially designed to offer optimal performance, safety, and adherence to sporting regulations.

While intriguing, using NASCAR fuel in a regular vehicle isn’t just impractical – it‘s potentially harmful and certainly not cost-effective. The differences between racing fuels and standard gasoline go beyond mere octane ratings.

For everyday drivers, the key is to stick to the fuel types recommended by their vehicle’s manufacturer. Venturing outside these recommendations not only risks damage to the car but can also lead to voided warranties and increased maintenance costs.

While the thrill of racing captures many hearts, when it comes to fuel, it’s best to keep the race on the track.



Al lifelong Motor Racing Fan, with a particular love of NASCAR and IndyCar racing. Been in and out of cars of varying speeds since i was a child and sharing what i have learnt here.

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