Transporting racing fuel, pump gas, and alcohol is an activity that gets little respect. Gasoline and, to a lesser extent, alcohol do not receive the respect that the amount of energy they are storing should get. From a safety perspective, we need to exercise great care when transporting and storing any fuel. And as fuel costs continue to rise we need to make sure we are getting all the value from the fuel we are using. This means that any activity we use to transport the fuel should provide a stable environment so we do not take anything away from the fuel that could affect our on-track performance. Using poor fuel transportation and storage techniques can take away some of the power producing components of the fuel.

Gasoline should always be stored in containers that will not allow sunlight to reach the fuel. Many racing fuels are photo sensitive, or sensitive to light. This essentially means that exposure to sunlight can damage the fuel. That may be hard to imagine, but many fuels blended for racing applications are very sensitive chemical compounds. It is not so much the light that has the potential to degrade the fuel but the ultraviolet light in sunlight that damages the fuel. In extreme instances separation of some of the components of the fuel can occur and this leads to a rapid degradation of the fuel.

It is possible that the fuel you are using is not photo sensitive, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The containers used for storing gasoline should be either metal or opaque plastic. If you are using plastic jugs the best colors for transporting gasoline is black. While the translucent white jugs are very popular, they are not the best choice for transporting and storing gasoline-based racing fuels. Just remember what your mom told you: "Just because everybody else is doing it, this does not make it right."

The translucent jugs are fine for alcohol, however. Just make sure that the jugs are well sealed from the environment. If the container that you are storing alcohol in is vented to ambient air, the alcohol and alcohol-based fuels will absorb moisture from the air. It is not uncommon for an excessive amount of water to be absorbed from the air in areas that have high humidity. Adding water to your fuel is not a good thing and can cause some problems, chiefly impairing your engine so that it may not run to its full potential. Water in the fuel system can also cause corrosion in the fuel system.

The word is not in yet on E85 gasoline, a blend of alcohol and gasoline. It is rated at 100 octane, but the jury is still out on whether E85 will absorb water just like pure alcohol.

Fuel containers should be shielded from sunlight whenever possible. Not just due to the damage caused by ultraviolet rays in sunlight but to prevent elevated temperatures of the fuel itself. It is not uncommon for plastic fuel cans stored in the sun to swell a bit. You will often notice that fuel jugs stored in the sun will hiss a good bit as they are opened. This hissing is all the light elements of the fuel that you are paying big money for that are escaping into the air in the form of vapors. If you have an open trailer, do your best to keep the fuel from seeing direct sunlight. Place a tarp or some type of cover over the fuel bottles to shade them from direct sunlight.

Another potential problem is fuel that is stored in an enclosed trailer may not be properly vented. If you can smell a high concentration of fuel vapor in the trailer when you open the door you have two problems. First the fuel jugs should be sealed from the environment, and second the ventilation in the trailer is inadequate. Both can cause real issues. Start by getting the fuel jugs sealed better. Then add some vents to the trailer; if the trailer already has vents make sure they are open.

Fuel jugs do not last forever. They wear out, just like any other part on the racecar, and should be replaced on a regular basis. The caps need to be inspected regularly as well. If you store the jugs in the sun for extended periods of time the sun will degrade the plastic and the jug will get brittle. It is not uncommon for the caps to crack. It always seems to happen at the most inopportune time, such as when you are trying to remove the cap or when you have just filled the bottle and the cap cracks when you are reinstalling it. And it is not just the caps that can crack, as the bottles can crack as the jugs get older. This is not a common occurrence, but it does happen. Not a good thing to arrive at the track with five gallons of fuel sloshing around on the floor of the trailer.

Another thing most racers do not know is that there are local, state, and federal laws regarding the transportation of fuel. Many racers are able to obtain their fuel from vendors at the track. There are some real advantages to doing this. One is that you do not have to spend money on fuel until you need it. From an inventory control perspective that is a real advantage. But if you are going to transport fuel on the open road you need to be aware of the laws regarding the transportation of fuel.

It goes almost without saying that you should be carrying a number of fire extinguishers, one in the trailer, one in your tow vehicle, and one that is part of your pit equipment. Fire extinguishers are much cheaper than a trip to the local burn center. A quality fire extinguisher can be purchased at the local Home Depot or Lowe's for a very reasonable cost, especially when you consider the cost of your racecar and related equipment.

Bottom line--the transportation and storage of fuel is a process that requires care and respect. Follow some basic safety rules. The stored energy of fuel is an awesome power, so make sure you are following local and state regulations regarding the transportation and storage of fuel. It is just that simple.

DO carry fire extinguishers when you are transporting fuels.
DO make sure that fuel jugs and fuel cans are well secured in your trailer or truck.
DO become familiar with the laws and ordinances that are related to fuel transportation.
DO make sure that storage containers for alcohol are not vented to the atmosphere.
DO keep your fuel containers clean inside and out. Use a filter when filling the fuel containers and filter when transferring fuel to the racecar.
DON'T purchase any more fuel than you will need for each day of racing. There is no reason to stock up. Fresh fuel is better that stale fuel. So any savings based on buying in bulk may be lost in lower vehicle performance.
DON'T store gasoline in translucent containers. Use black plastic or metal cans that are designed to store gasoline.
DON'T allow the fuel jugs to move during transportation.

Home Depot
Scribner Plastics Utility Jugs
Kidde Fire Extinguishers Arizona RaceMart
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