New To The Amateur Racing World? What Fuel Can Give Your Car The Biggest Boost?

Posted on: 5 September 2017

If you've recently taken your love of auto racing to the front lines, racing your own project vehicle against other locals for money or bragging rights, you're probably spending much of your spare time researching some of the factors that can decrease your racing time while improving handling and control. In many cases, your fuel mixture may be able to shave precious milliseconds off your time while providing you with a more controlled speed. 

On the other hand, choosing the wrong type of racing fuel or simply assuming any racing fuel is better than the high-octane blend you can purchase at your local gas station could leave you wasting money and potentially harming your vehicle. It's important to thoroughly research your options and make yourself familiar with your vehicle's own needs and requirements before you go too far down this path. Read on to learn more about the fuel selection process at a place like Yearwood Performance Center, as well as some of the factors you'll want to consider when choosing your own fuel blend. 

Why is the selection of racing fuel an individual decision?

Not all racing fuel is right for all vehicles; a high-octane mixture that can give certain engines a smooth burst of extra speed may instead cause your turbo-boosted project car to stall or stutter. The right fuel for your vehicle will depend on its age, condition, and the type of engine it has, which means you should always treat advertiser claims that a certain fuel is "perfect for all applications" with a grain of salt. 

For example, high-alcohol fuels tend to be far more drying than regular gasoline; this can put the rubber seals, hoses, and other crude-based components of your engine at risk of cracking or shrinking, which means you'll need to perform frequent inspections if you're planning to use this fuel in a vehicle that's already showing signs of age. Other fuels may contain traces of metal, which can increase the risk of corrosion or oxidation of internal engine components if this fuel is frequently used in place of "road fuel."

In other cases, the rules of the racing authority itself may dictate the type(s) of fuel you can use. Using fuel that isn't sanctioned or approved for a certain type of race could result in your disqualification, dealing you a tremendous blow if you're able to shave a few precious seconds off your time before your mistake is noted by the racing officials. 

What should you keep in mind when selecting racing fuel for your vehicle? 

In general, there are five factors you'll want to weigh when selecting racing fuel for your vehicle. These factors include: octane, specific gravity, oxidation stability, reid vapor pressure, and distillation.


A fuel's octane number measures the resistance of the fuel to auto-ignition, with a higher octane signifying that the fuel is ultra-resistant to spontaneous combustion. This is key when dealing with high-powered engines; a high octane can prevent the fuel from catching on fire before you've gunned the gas pedal. 

Specific Gravity

This measurement compares the relative density of the racing fuel to water. In general, the higher the specific gravity, the more power (and fuel efficiency) will be provided by the fuel mixture.

Oxidation Stability

This factor measures the length of time it takes for a fuel to break down when exposed to heat and oxygen pressure. Here, the longer the better when it comes to determining the chemical stability of the fuel through an oxidation stability measure.

Reid Vapor Pressure

This factor measures the amount of combustible vapors produced by the fuel; as with octane measurements, a high number is generally indicative of a more stable fuel that's less likely to cause problems. 


Finally, distillation allows for the measurement of the evaporation of your racing fuel's components. Because different components evaporate at different rates and can change the composition of the fuel, it's important to know which components evaporate the most quickly to ensure your fuel continues to perform at its peak even when your engine is exposed to high heat.