NASCAR Greenlights Environmentalism

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The starting flags aren’t the only green at the race track.

Packs of high-powered stock cars blazing around a race track burning huge amounts of fuel for an entire day might not seem like the most eco-friendly sport. But the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is making efforts to put the brakes on their environmental impact. Off the track, NASCAR encourages their 67 million fans to accelerate Earth-friendly behaviors.

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Recently, NASCAR officials signed an agreement to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue and expand promotion of green products and lifestyles. NASCAR pledged to use and promote products certified by the EPA’s Design for the Environment program.

"Because NASCAR is followed by millions of passionate fans and many businesses, it can be a powerful platform to raise environmental awareness," said Jim Jones of the EPA in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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The race for sustainability started in 2008 when the NASCAR Green program first revved its engine. NASCAR claims their recycling and sustainability program is now the largest of any U.S. sport, according to its website.

Key Components of NASCAR Green:

  • Sheep – Nearly 3,000 sheep serve as natural lawnmowers at Infineon Raceway in California.
  • Fuel – Drivers, green your engines! All NASCAR racing vehicles now use Sunoco Green E15. The fuel is a blended with 15 percent American grown and processed ethanol and produced 20 percent less greenhouse gas than unleaded gasoline. That said, stock cars only get approximately 5 miles to the gallon or less. NASCAR officials estimate that a total of 6,000 gallons of fuel are consumed by cars competing in an average weekend, reported the Wilmington Delaware News Journal.
  • Trees – Every time a green flag drops at a racing event, 10 green trees are dropped into the Earth.
  • Recycling – At the track, racing fans are provided with recycling bins and the cans and bottles they collect are fed into a portable processing center provided by Coca-Cola. On the track, used oil is collected and re-refined by Safety-Kleen. Approximately 121,000 used tires are collected and recycled into power plant fuel, asphalt and other products by Goodyear.
  • Solar – Several NASCAR racetracks have solar panels to provide some or all of their energy needs. The Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania has a 3 megawatt solar array that also provides power to more than 200 homes.

NASCAR isn’t the only racing event to go green. Last year all the Indy cars at the Baltimore Grand Prix ran on 100 percent ethanol, reported the Baltimore Sun.

Although Monaco’s Prince Albert has expressed green sentiments, there is no word of replacing the F1 race cars with plug in electric vehicles during this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

IMAGE: The start of the race during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance Carolina 200. (Glen Starek, Corbis)