NASCAR has become one of the most popular sports in the country in recent years, and only continues to grow. It is a sport of finely-tuned machinery, expert driving at incredible speeds and the occasional smoky, fiery wreck. Although it seems like an impossible marriage, the minds behind NASCAR are interested in making their sport more environmentally sustainable. But how can car racing go green? Well, by embracing the latest technology.
It was just announced that Ford’s 2012 Focus electric will stand as the pace car at the Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond International Raceway on April 28th. It’s an incredible bit of branding and PR for Ford, which may help the American car company beat out hybrid and electric competition from Toyota, Nissan and GM. But is there any risk to the venture for Ford? NASCAR is notorious for environmental damage. Their race cars are not gas-efficient, and with dozens of cars driving hundreds of miles in a circle, the events are hotbeds of greenhouse gas emissions. But NASCAR has made several future-facing steps recently, proving that this may actually be a perfect combination.
NASCAR is a phenomenal venue for showing off fuel-efficient car innovations. Fans of these events are huge car junkies, and certainly spend money on the automotive industry. Shining the spotlight on Ford’s electric vehicle may lead to larger acceptance by purchasers, and greater trust for electric technology as a viable option. Additionally, the big knock on electric vehicles has been their limited range, so watching it doggedly round the track over and over again should further prove the car needs to be taken seriously.
NASCAR has also been pushing green initiatives for the past several years. Back in 2008, they launched the NASCAR Green Program, aimed at bringing companies that employ sustainable business practices into the mix as sponsors and partners in events. Make Motorsports, one company in frequent NASCAR competition, partnered with Liberty Tire Recycling to re-use existing tires. This is but one way that racing fans have become familiar with sustainable businesses, which may make them one of the most knowledgeable fan bases there are. And their efforts are only beginning. Early this year, NASCAR launched a large scale-road safety campaign that partnered Green Earth Technologies with one of their popular drivers. They launched the campaign pairing ideas of how a focus on traffic safety can actually lead to better vehicle fuel efficiency.
Drivers and tracks have also taken up the call. Patrick Dempsey, an actor who is also a popular NASCAR driver, partnered with Trina Energy to bring solar power into communities that may not be able to afford it on their own. Solar power also helps to run NASCAR tracks in California and Pennsylvania. Even one of the jewels of the circuit, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, joined the fun by holding Emerging Tech Day on the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 race in 2011, featuring the latest innovations in clean technology. So there’s plenty of evidence that NASCAR is fully committed to improving their environmental friendliness. It may feel like buying touring caravan insurance for a cruise ship, but as the years pass, the impact NASCAR could have is huge.