Rahal Letterman Racing along with Ethanol Promotion and Information Council announced the selection of Jeff Simmons as the driver for No. 17 Team Ethanol. Simmons will replace the late Paul Dana who lost his life in a practice accident March 26.
"Continuing our presence in racing and our partnership with the Indy Racing League will be instrumental in demonstrating the value of ethanol to all drivers," says Tom Slunecka, the executive director of the EPIC.
Slunecka continued by saying that Paul Dana recognized years ago, that a major tool of communicating the performance value of ethanol to consumers and mechanics is through racing. EPIC is committed to continuing its mission of promoting ethanol.
"Through Paul Dana's determination, ethanol became the performance fuel of choice for the Indy Racing League," says David Vander Griend, president and CEO of ICM. "The best tribute to his legacy is to continue promoting ethanol through racing. We are excited about the future of our new partnership with Jeff Simmons and Rahal Letterman Racing."
Simmons, a native of East Granby, CT, has a long record of success in IRL Indy Pro Series history with seven victories. He has garnered extensive experience in the IPS, having run four seasons and twice finishing as the championship runner-up (2003, 2005). In addition he has made two IRL IndyCar Series starts, including a run at the Indianapolis 500 in 2004 for Mo Nunn Racing. Simmons won the season-opening IPS race in 2006.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to promote the message and need for the clean, renewable fuel ethanol and to become a member of Rahal Letterman Racing," says Simmons, 29. "It is one of the most professional teams I could ever hope to be associated with and I truly appreciate the faith that Bobby and the Team Ethanol sponsors have placed in me. The fact that I have this opportunity as a result of Paul's passing is not lost on me and I want to express my deepest sympathies to his family and friends. I believe the best way for me to honor him is to do everything I can to carry on the cause in which Paul believed so deeply."
"Paul Dana was a tireless advocate for ethanol and through his determination and the Team Ethanol race program he was able to reach millions of people with the ethanol value message," says Ron Fagen, president and CEO of Fagen, Inc.
The No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz/Firestone will return to the track at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 22, 2006.
"Paul truly believed in the benefits of ethanol, constantly promoting ethanol as a high-performance, environmentally friendly, made in America fuel," says Jeff Broin, CEO of the Broin Companies. "It is important that the industry continues what Paul started."
Team Ethanol is comprised of the Broin Companies, Fagen Inc., ICM and 25 other companies who have joined together in a voluntary industry-wide coalition that represents over half of the industry. Ethanol is a high-octane, high-performance fuel that is clean burning, renewable and made in America. As a growing component of the United States gasoline supply, it delivers improved vehicle performance for all passenger cars and trucks while reducing emissions and improving air quality.