AMES — As an Oklahoma corn farmer who is also a racecar museum owner, Brent Hajek knows all about the general perception of ethanol-based fuel.
He sees signs at gas stations that boast "no alcohol in our gas,” and he knows that a lot of people believe it doesn’t perform as well as pure gasoline.
It’s to those people that Hajek offers a challenge.
"You say it cuts your performance?” he asks. "Why don’t you go out there and see if you can go faster than we did.”
It’s probably not a challenge many people are up to, since Hajek owns what some people are calling the fastest Ford Mustang on the planet.
His car topped out at 252.78 mph in one of many runs this year at a Bonneville Salt Flats event in Utah. Hajek’s car blew past the previous record speed of 246 mph — and it was all done on E85 fuel.
When Hajek first pitched the idea of taking a Ford Mustang back to Bonneville in the way Ford did with the 1969 Mach 1 Mustang, he did not get the enthusiasm he was hoping for.
"There was some interest at first, but they weren’t real excited,” he said. "Then we had the idea about the E85 fuel and they were hooked.”
So it was a corn farmer from Oklahoma attempting a speed record like Ford did in the past, only with what might likely be the next generation of fuel, which depends on American-grown corn.
When Hajek’s team showed up at the Bonneville effort, he realized there really wasn’t a class for E85 cars, and they put him instead in a class called "C-blown, fuel altered unlimited.