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Ethanol fuels races at Viking Speedway tonight

Three nights of ethanol-themed racing are scheduled for July 6-8 on three racetracks around Minnesota - including Alexandria.

The Governor's Ethanol Challenge series, sponsored by Minnesota Corn Growers Association, will make a circuit that begins tonight, Tuesday, July 6 at Viking Speedway in Alexandria. U.S. Representative Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, is expected to be at the speedway at 5:30 p.m. to talk about renewable energy.

From there, the Challenge moves to Madison Speedway in Madison on Wednesday, July 7 and KRA Speedway in Willmar on Thursday, July 8.

"These races draw people from all over," said Chad Willis, vice president of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council who has helped organize the race series for the past several years. "The event gives our organization and local ethanol supporters a chance to remind people of the value and benefits of a home-grown, renewable fuel."

Willis said the series has created an in-demand item for race enthusiasts: the Governor's Ethanol Challenge T-shirt, which are sold during each night of racing by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. Willis has seen people wearing the t-shirts at race events all around the Midwest, effectively keeping ethanol top-of-mind with a large segment of consumers. "Every year the t-shirts become more popular - we sold out last year, and expect them to go quickly this year, too."

The Governor's Ethanol Challenge takes place as part of the Wissota Auto Racing league's Midwest Modified class competitions. This year's schedule is:

•Tuesday, July 6 at Viking Speedway in Alexandria at 5:30 p.m.

•Wednesday, July 7 at Madison Speedway in Madison at 7:00 p.m.

•Thursday, July 8 at KRA Speedway in Willmar at 6:30 p.m.

Each nightly competition offers a payout with an award given on the final night to the racer with the highest total points over the three nights of ethanol racing.