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NASCAR Accelerates Toward Green Energy

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When you watch the Daytona 500 this weekend, you'll be seeing a lot of green - and it's not the colors of the cars zipping around the track. This year, NASCAR has taken some major steps to improve their energy consumption and go greener. The goal of the NASCAR Green effort is to "minimize NASCAR's environmental impact while bringing value and inspiration to the motorsports industry, its partners, employees and fans."1 In short, a new industry standard has gone a long way toward transforming how NASCAR operates--and transforming how other sports could operate in the future.

The NASCAR Green project aims to do more than reduce NASCAR's carbon footprint. They recognize the potential impact of CO2 emissions on the environment and have taken many steps to reduce them. The project has also been a proving ground, shining a light on technologies that pave the way for advances in racing and a number of other industries.2 Here's an overview of how they're doing it.

The Pocono Raceway Solar Project

Pocono Raceway is revolutionary for one simple reason: it's the greenest track in NASCAR - and in all of sports. The track is powered entirely with solar energy, rather than non-renewable sources such as coal.3 Even landscape maintenance is sustainable; a flock of 50 sheep graze on the track during the summer to keep the grass cut. Visitors can find recycling containers throughout the track and facilities, which help with sustainability efforts.

Sonoma Raceway

Like Pocono, solar power is the name of the game at Sonoma Raceway. The solar facility has the potential to power not only Sonoma Raceway, but also other facilities nearby. It is one of the leaders in the NASCAR Green project for solar power, sheep lawn care, and even organic gardens that furnish hospitality suites.4

Daytona International Speedway

Of course, as the Daytona 500 approaches, it's important to take a look at the Daytona International Speedway. The facility is designed to reduce energy usage and go as green as possible using:

  • QuantumFlo pump systems, which efficiently and reliably transport the large amounts of water required for the race;5  
  • 7,000 solar panels;6
  • Fuel cell generators that power broadcast cameras, spotlights and other areas of the speedway, replacing gasoline-powered generators used in the past.7 NASCAR estimates that they can save approximately $2,000 per race by using this technology--an incredible savings over the course of the season.

The solar installation at Daytona International Speedway is one of the largest in sports. With three separate solar panel locations powering the speedway and other areas, it has the potential to prevent 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere each year. That's equal to approximately 2 million laps around the Daytona International Speedway track. 

In addition to powering the track, the solar panels are also collecting data that will provide insights into how solar power can be stored in batteries. This technology has the potential to transform energy collection and storage to better facilitate high-volume consumption during races, and to assist in cases of natural disasters and emergencies.

Other Facilities

But green energy doesn't stop there. Fans will find that NASCAR has gone the extra mile toward clean energy at many facilities:

  • Chicagoland Speedway hosts an annual "Go Green for Spring" event and gives out trees to celebrate
  • At Kyle Busch Motorsports, geothermal heating and cooling, cocoon insulation and solar control glass all combine to create a more energy-efficient facility
  • Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is creating solar powered cool down units for use on pit roads

The American Ethanol Project

For NASCAR, going green isn't just about powering speedways with renewable energy. They're also looking for green sources of race car fuel. The American Ethanol Project promotes the use of E-15 ethanol as the primary fuel in NASCAR vehicles and proved that green fuel doesn't have to be less efficient than the pure gasoline favored by drivers in the past.8 After driving millions of miles with E-15 ethanol fuel, drivers and their support staff are discovering that there is no reduction in quality, nor is there greater wear and tear on vehicles.9 Contrarily, E-15 improves engine performance. 

The Future of Green in Sports

Thanks to NASCAR's green efforts at Daytona International Speedway and facilities around the country, the future of green energy is brighter than ever in many sports industries and arenas. Fuel cells, solar panels and other green technologies can save money, reduce emissions, increase reliability and improve performance.
By leading the way with this green initiative, NASCAR sets an example for the racing industry and beyond. For race fans and fans of environmental sustainability alike, these advances are powerful markers for green energy management on into the future.




Posted: February 16, 2018