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Nygaard Racing

One of the biggest stories in the news is the price of gas. Everywhere you go people are talking about the cost of a gallon of gas, and for those of us who remember the gas lines of the 1970’s, this isn’t really news. For years there has been a lot of talk about alternative fuels and how they could make this country a little more energy efficient and less dependent on outside sources. If you’re a race fan and you want to find out more about one of the alternative sources of fuel, all you have to do is visit an NHRA race and stop by the Nygaard pit area. Randy, Brian and Jeff Nygaard are three brothers who race in the Super Gas ranks and who take turns driving one of the few race cars in the sport that is powered by ethanol. “Obviously we get a lot of questions about the car and the fuel,” said Randy. “And we’re always pleased to tell everyone how well the ethanol is working for us in our car.”

For those of you who may not know what ethanol is, Randy explained that it is a “high octane domestic and renewable fuel that is made from corn and other grains.” As such it’s no surprise that a lot of the ethanol in America is made in the Midwestern states like South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas. After all, they don’t call Nebraska the “Cornhusker State” for nothing. But why run it in a race car and what advantages does it offer? Well, Randy and his brothers run it because they got together with the folks at Fagen Incorporated in Granite Falls, Minnesota a few years ago and asked about sponsorship for their race car. “A friend of ours directed us to Fagen and when we talked to them the obvious questions was would we run ethanol in our car if they supported us,” Randy said. That was four years ago and after starting out with a relatively low level (about 20%) of ethanol the first year, today the team runs 100% ethanol in their car. “It gives us more horsepower and had made the car a lot easier to run. We’ re sold on it.”

The Nygaard brothers have been racing for awhile. Randy began almost thirty years ago with a ’ 67 Ford Fairlane with a 429 Cobra Jet engine, and after racing in Super Pro for a while at Thunder Valley Dragway in Marion, South Dakota, he changed to a 1968 Mustang and then to a Mercury Zephyr. “I’ve had pretty good success over the years,” Randy said. “I won the track championship in 1990, ’91, ’94, ’97 and 2000 and have also done well on the Northern Drag Racing Association circuit.” Jeff, who also drives the car, has won on both the divisional level and the national tour, including a Division 5 win at Brainerd in 1995 and the national win in St. Louis two years later. “It’s a nice deal and we all get to drive the cars,” Randy added. “Sometimes I can make it and Jeff can’t, or he can make it and I can’t.” Brother Brian, who races the team’s other ethanol car, a 1977 Vega that runs in Super Gas, is attending a family graduation and will miss this week’s race, but he will attend the D-5 event in Brainerd next week. At Heartland Park Topeka, Randy will compete in Super Gas with the 1990 Cavalier that has the familiar corn graphics on the side. “We bought the car back in 1990 when it was half done and we finished it ourselves and now we race on pretty much a regular basis. The paint job looks nice, gets a lot of attention and pretty much sums up what our sponsor does.” This weekend Jeff is at home running his new business, a nursery and landscape company in Watertown, South Dakota while Randy looks to take the corn-fed car to another national event win. And in the coming years, you can look for another generation of Nygaards to be racing, when Randy’s son, Thomas, hits the track. “He’s already had pretty good luck in the junior dragster class and now he wants dad to build him a Super Comp car.” If he does, you can bet it will be powered by ethanol. In addition to the time they spend at the race track, Randy and his family also go to several national conventions for their sponsors in an effort to promote awareness for ethanol as an alternative fuel. “We did a big show in Columbus early this year and you’d be surprised at how many people come up, look at the car and want to know if it’s actually racing on ethanol.” Randy then tells them how very little they had to change in the engine and how much better it runs and performs on ethanol. “It’s just better all around. We love it.”


 

Besides switching to a new fuel injection system (Ron’s Terminator F.I), there are basically no changes that the team had to make to the car. “Other than that, we just fuel it up and go racing,” Randy said. In the process they also create awareness for a fuel that could go a long way toward making this country more energy efficient in the future and they’ve already noticed several car manufacturers who are making their new models ethanol compatible. “If you see the E-85 label when you go to buy a car that means that it can use ethanol. The E-85 is eighty-five percent ethanol and fifteen percent gasoline. It’s better for the environment and it’s about twenty to twenty-five a gallon cheaper than regular gasoline.” And, if you visit the team’s pit area you’ll notice their golf cart, or pit vehicle, which runs on E-85 and is painted just like the race car.

The Nygaard family enjoys racing and it’s a great family affair for them. In fact, their dad, Odell, “Ole” as he is known to his friends, has been coming to the races to watch the boys compete for over fifteen years. In addition working hard on the track the team also works hard to promote their sponsors including FIRST CHOICE TRANSPORT in Denver, CO. who is the team’s primary sponsor. They would also like to thank associate sponsors Glacial Lakes Energy, LLC, for the ETHANOL they supply for the race cars and H & B Truck Shop in Watertown does all of the truck work on the team’s travel trailer. Dutch Boy Car Wash in Watertown supplies the team with gas for their generators and ice for those hot summer days. “We’re very lucky to have so many good sponsors because it makes racing a whole lot easier.” Just like using ethanol might make living, driving, racing and breathing a whole lot easier for all of us.