A ‘fuelish’ tale

An Isuzu Gemini racer in Oz.
An Isuzu Gemini racer in Oz.

Many years ago I was running a standard Isuzu Gemini in a tightly controlled formula. Like everyone else, we would be looking to see what little tricks could be turned to give an advantage. For most teams that meant trying to alter cam timing and compression without being found out by the scrutineers. For me, I began looking at the fuel we used.

The F1 circus came to Australia for the Grand Prix. After the GP weekend, somehow, a drum of the special F1 fuel was left behind by the Williams team, and it made its way to Brisbane, 2000 km away, where I was waiting. This fuel was really special, very much more efficient thermodynamically than 97 octane, or even 115.

Taking Gemini to the rolling road dynamometer we tipped in the F1 fuel and looked at the horsepower numbers. Instant horsepower, and big grins all round. The weekend would be very successful, we predicted.

We rolled out for practice, and I could feel the extra urge immediately. However, the extra urge only lasted three laps. The crew set about working out why it stopped, and it turned out that the fuel was not getting to the engine. But why not? There was plenty in the tank, and so we began to take out each fuel line looking for the blockage.

It was then we found that the F1 fuel was eating the inside of the standard fuel lines, making gummy deposits all the way along the hoses. F1 cars, of course, do not run rubber/neoprene fuel lines, like production Isuzu Gemini’s do!

We had outsmarted ourselves, but at least we did find a good use for the F1 fuel. It was the greatest way to get the BBQ coals burning. After dousing in F1 fuel, you tossed a match at the BBQ from about 20 paces away. Whooompa, and the BBQ was ready! Technology wins again!