Got Fuel Questions? Answers Are Easy to Find

Unless you’re participating at SCCA® events in an EV or a diesel, chances are extraordinarily strong that gasoline is a staple of your motorsport weekends. Luckily, the topic of fuel is a simple one – fill up your fuel tank and go, right? If only! Beyond knowing which octane and composition of fuel is right for your specific vehicle, fuel storage is also a consideration, as is fuel age and more. Since fuel can be a make or (quite literally) break topic, it doesn’t take SCCA members long to go from the superficial subject of topping up, to a deep dive into that combustible liquid we all rely on. Luckily, help is easy to find.

Being the official fuel of SCCA since 2001, Sunoco is a trusted partner of SCCA and its members. Meanwhile, being into all things amateur motorsports, Grassroots Motorsports (GRM) is also a trusted partner of weekend warriors. Combine the two and you’ve got a winning blend of priceless fuel information.

Over the last few years, GRM and Sunoco have teamed up to bring enthusiasts the knowledge they need. In this article, the topic of fuel storage arose.

“Properly storing that fuel, assuming that it’s not used right away, can lengthen its shelf life,” the GRM article reads. “The Sunoco Race Fuels website offers some handy storage tips: Keep the containers full, tightly sealed, and away from daylight and major temperature swings.”

And then there’s the question of whether your stored fuel is still OK to use.

“We don’t have much concern because the fuels are so stable,” Zachary J. Santner, Sunoco’s Senior Specialist of Quality, explained to GRM’s editors.

Sunoco Race Fuels stored correctly in sealed containers in cool, dry locations can be good for at least two years. Even better, Santner adds that storing fuel correctly is relatively easy. “In the real world, your garage or shed is fine,” he told GRM.

How can Santner be so sure? Because Sunoco puts stored fuels to the test in extreme conditions. In the article, GRM explained that Sunoco places fuel containers unsheltered in the Pennsylvania elements for two years, checking the fuel’s viability during that time. “We get all the seasons,” Santner explained.

Being racers, some of SCCA’s staff have participated in less-than-ideal fuel storage practices over the years, so we couldn’t help but contacting Santner for ourselves, hoping he could set us straight on fuel storage container types, along with why it’s important to store fuel in a full container.

“Gasoline must be stored in a container that provides an airtight seal,” he explained to us. “Many containers can do this, but steel containers are often best because they are sturdy and can maintain the airtight seal even as pressure builds up during the warmest part of the day. If those vapors causing pressure escape, the remaining fuel starts to change specifications and can reduce throttle response and ease of starting. For long-term storage, something like a steel drum or pail is best, but for a weekend at the track, the plastics do pretty well.”

As for keeping fuel containers full during storage: “This is key because the liquid reduces head space above the fuel, and it’s especially necessary when fuel is stored in a vehicle because they don’t have an air-tight seal,” he added. “As daily temperatures cycle up and down, the fuel volume expands and contracts. This breathing cycle can be minimized by having less head space for the incoming humid air to fill.”

More fuel tips, articles, and links can be found on the Tech Corner portion of Sunoco’s website.

Photo by Dan Dennehy-Rodriguez