NASCAR has already gone solar and wants to help you (not themselves) use less fuel, but the cold hard reality is that those ovals are being made in cars that get around five miles per gallon. Not exactly hybrid SUV territory there. So, to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used in each race, race organizers are looking at maybe – just maybe – using alternative fuels in some of the cars.

Before NASCAR gets that ca-razy, though, there are other ways the series might use fewer resources. At least NASCAR's first director of green innovation, Mike Lynch, makes it clear that, "We're not attempting to take any high ground. [...] This is a pragmatic approach to green, and what we're doing now is just the beginning."

Part of the problem is that NASCAR fans don't want to give up what they've become accustomed to. Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development, told USAToday that, "Doubling fuel mileage means half the horsepower, and putting fans in the stands requires a show." Driver Sam Hornish, Jr. adds, "No one is going to come watch us run battery-powered cars. I don't see anyone making enough electric power to go 200 mph."

Driver Brian Vickers is also more than willing to take the let's-all-do-something-but-you-go-first approach. He said, "Do our cars need to be more fuel efficient? Absolutely. But I think as a whole there's a lot bigger low-hanging fruit we can go after as a sport. There are a lot of fans that come to these races, and there's a lot we don't recycle that we could."

Some of that low-hanging fruit are carbon offsets, possibly replacing carburetors with (gasp!) fuel injection and finally Coke's race-side display that "highlight(s) its recycling businesses and has placed more than 2,600 recycling bins at a dozen tracks that have collected more than 65,000 pounds of recyclable material." When you have such a history of going in circles, maybe progress isn't your forte.

[Source: USAToday via Domestic Fuel]
Photo by pocketwiley. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.