When you think of green marketing, the sport of stock car racing probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. Heck, it probably isn’t even the millionth thing you would think of pondering the state of modern corporate green initiatives. NASCAR, the largest automotive racing venture in North America, is working hard to change that image.
Started in 2008, NASCAR Green is an effort by the sport’s largest sanctioning body to address the environmental issues that arise from putting on each race. The biggest NASCAR races attract more than 100,000 spectators. The biggest races produce as much as 100 tons of recyclable waste. NASCAR vehicles churn out a lot of carbon dioxide, the gas most commonly identified with global warming.
The cars themselves are notoriously inefficient. The average NASCAR vehicles get between 4 and 5 miles per gallon of gasoline consumed. That means a 43-car field can burn through as much as 4,300 gallons of fuel during a 500-mile race. NASCAR has turned to use E15 fuel from Sonoco to reduce some of the impact. NASCAR Green is also working with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant thousands of trees to offset the CO2 emissions from stock car races.
NASCAR Green has also been looking to more exotic solutions on a longer timeline. The stock car association has worked with Sunoco to increase the amount of ethanol used in racing fuel. And there has even been talk of integrating solar-power solutions. Racing venues are also increasingly turning to solar power to provide clean electricity. Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania is host to over 40,000 solar panels.
NASCAR Green, however, tries to focus on more immediately applicable solutions. NASCAR recycles all the tires used during each race. Batteries and fluids are also aggressively recycled. NASCAR says that some racing teams are achieving as high as 96% recyclability of the entire vehicle.
NASCAR also works hard with venues and suppliers to ensure as much of the waste produced by crowds at the races is recycled as possible. Race fans produce between 70 and 100 tons of recyclable waste over a single NASCAR weekend at the track, mostly from plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard containers. At Fontana Speedway in California the solution is simple: there is a recycling plant right next to the track that handles everything. NASCAR also works with companies like Coca-Cola Recycling to co-ordinate efforts to handle the garbage from crowds.
NASCAR tries to encourage recycling among the infield camper crowd that is distinct to its audience. Each NASCAR weekend, the infield of the current cup series race becomes one of the largest campgrounds in the United States. NASCAR Green provides curb-side recycling pick-up in the infield to ensure recycling among campers is easy. The service is provided by a mobile processing unit pulled by a clean diesel rig.
NASCAR is continuing to work toward a green future. While the racing venture may not be the first corporation that comes to mind when you think green, NASCAR is fighting to change that perception. It continues to push venues and racing teams to improve their green efforts. NASCAR’s goal is to be the largest green initiative in all of sports.