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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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      God, to think that all that go juice is wasted on this lowest form of racing. How about cutting the number of laps in half, that way we there will only be 2 hours of left hand turns.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Less laps, hmmmm.....that's a great idea for many reasons
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most talented drivers, have you ever seen WRC??? Or Baja? If you break down there, you don't just get towed to the pits and given a frappa-latte, you have to fix it, or the crowd carries your mangled car back on the track and you keep going.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Cut the current Bataan Death March of a schedule down to 20 to 24 races per year, scrap the CoT and switch to bodies-in-white, run more road courses, improve the technology, and look at alternative fuels. ALMS is on the right track here, and NA$CAR could be too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This eco stuff has gone to far. yes i know its Glen Beck i dont listen to him often (i get my news online) but he does cover SOME interesting stuff. And just so you know Al GORE is being sued by 31,000 scientist including 9,000 PHD's who study the earth and climate.

        if you think im crazy just watch this video and research the subject for yourself.


        Climate change = a carbon tax.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The car bodies are based on today's cars, why not the engines. go with the fuel injected V6's that are in most modern cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To those who have been wondering what F1 fuel economy is, from what I watch via commentary and (very) rough estimates, F1 cars get somwehere between 2.8-3.3 mpg. And 3.3 is running damn lean for those.
      • 5 Years Ago
      5 mpg for a 5.7L 1970's-tech carborated V8 running at race speed, at 7-9K RPM most of the time, in an aerodynamic brick is very, very good. I would wager it's much better than F1 and Indycar. Do they need smaller engines? Yes... but thousands of men and millions of dollars have been put into the current one to wring out as much power and-yes-economy as possible, and they've done quite a job.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Its a SPORT...it has nothing to do with automotive economy, political correctness or the overall economy efforts in action today.

      It is an insignificant statistic. Attempting to attach "importance" to this SPORT in the Green Economy Effort is ludicrous.

      Boxers use BRAND NEW leather gloves for each fight...and animal rights activists will lambast this practice as "animal abuse"

      You folks and your ilk do not have the word "perspective" in your vocabulary.

      Laughter at and ridicule of is your just reward.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The sport may not affect the economy, but the economy can affect the sport.

        During the '70s oil crunch the economy took a nosedive. To conserve fuel--and more importantly, CUT COSTS--NASCAR shortened all its big races by IIRC about 20%. The Daytona 500 became the Daytona 400, for example. They did that for a few years until the economy and oil supply recovered.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thaaaank You.

        And I don't even like NASCAR...
      • 5 Years Ago
      They don't care about fuel economy......are you for real? Do you even know anything about racing in general? Have you seen how many races were won or lost by the car who didn't pit the last time around and either came in on fumes or ran out of gas? I would say fuel economy is a huge deal and to suggest otherwise is mind boggling to me. Do you need to know anything at all about automobiles to write "green" articles in this blog? Probably not.

      Carburetors are part of the tradition of the sport. Should they go with fuel injection, why not? They've abandoned so many of the traditions of the sport already. Should they do it to satisfy the idiocy of this global warming cult? NO!

      Do you have any idea how many improvements have been made on all levels (including fuel economy) to the average automobile thanks to racing? Probably not, but then again you wacko enviro-socialist liberal elites automatically know everything about everything, so forgive me since you're so much smarter than I.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just for the sake of clarity, when they say "care for fuel economy", they refer to the league level, not the team level where fuel economy is important for competition.

        But then again, the importance of conservation or efficiency escapes most of you (in the name of "tradition", of course), so I can understand why you'd dismiss it as a "wacko" concept...
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's long past time NASCAR got into the 21st century. Smaller-displacement V8s (say a cap of 300ci instead of the current 358ci). Electronic fuel injection. Five, maybe even six-speed transmissions. Allow the cars to be LIGHTER (current minimum weight is I think 3,400lbs w/driver). Reduce that to 3,000lbs w/driver and you'll see steel body panels replaced with CF or fiberglass. All these things will improve efficiency without significantly impacting the actual racing. They'll still be loud, they'll still be fast, they'll still wreck spectacularly and they won't look any different.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm behind that 100%!

        I don't particularly care for nascar, but in light of recent developments with Direct-Injection and more specifically a lot more turbocharged cars from the factory, why not drop those big v8s for smaller, direct injected, turbo charged engines?

        You could tweak one of those little buggers to be roughly equivalent to the big v8, then throw in a better transmission (6, 7 speed), AND lower the weight of the cars. You'd easily double the fuel economy, if not more.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So is this post just to generate as much anti-green momentum as possible or what?
      • 5 Years Ago
      These nascars are a drop in the bucket compared to all the F150s out in the parking lot...
      • 5 Years Ago

      • 5 Years Ago
      Seems like I remember back in the eighties Nascar switched to 6-cylinder engines . Might of been in the Bush league though . Didn't go over too well . We like the sound of V-8's . Any ole V-8 will do , and of any cubic inch variety . Remember the little all aluminum Buick V-8's of the sixties ? Then there was Ford's 229 cid V-8 .
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Seems like I remember back in the eighties Nascar switched to 6-cylinder engines . Might of been in the Bush league though . "

        yeah, it was the Busch Grand National Series; used 4.5 liter V6s.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmmm... Deisel? If Audi and Peugot can do it... and SUCCEED! Just saying...
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