Wonders Loom: The Greening Of NASCAR

David C. Holzman
by David C. Holzman

The rot-gut whiskey powered good ol’ boys who turned their fleet flite from revenooers into stock car racing must be flipping their ‘40 Fords in their graves. Nah, on second thought, they’d be so proud that their Prohibition-defying race car culture has swept the nation they’d be bemused by the news. Nascar is going effete… uh, green.

Yes, while the main event remains a way to turn hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and NOx and Sox, and disperse rubber particles hither and yon while making really loud music, the friendly stock car racers near you are cleaning up their ancillary activities. For example, Nascar supported the installation last year of 40,000 solar panels over 25 acres at Pocono Raceway, for an annual savings of $500k; it plants 10 mature trees after each race; at the Infineon track in Sonoma, CA, a small herd of sheep keep the grass trimmed (and probably fertilize it); and the Roush Fenway team recycles 96% of each car it builds, has banned styrofoam cups, and its workers now ride bicycles—BICYCLES!—around its North Carolina facility. Oily rags, lubricants, oil filters, and used fuels are being recycled (used fuels recycled?! That sounds like alchemy!), according to our source, an article in the New York Times. And the pace car of choice is now the Toyota Camry hybrid (don’t laugh!).

The big deal about this is probably not so much the pollution avoided as it is the example it sets for a demographic not known for its enthusiasm towards reducing carbon emissions and smog. (It would be a really good trick if they could somehow work a carbon tax into all this.)

Of course, putting the logo of American Ethanol, the PR group for the National Corn Growers Association, on the starter flags is not the best example in the world. It might be better of the ethanol were being distilled by the great grandchildren of those original moonshiners, from waste fruit from the local Food Lion, somewhere in the nearby hills.

David C. Holzman
David C. Holzman

I'm a freelance journalist covering science, medicine, and automobiles.

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