NASCAR and Its 100-Plus Mile-an-Hour Electric Pace Car
We have all gotten used to the rolling thunder that is NASCAR racing. Forty big, loud and powerful race cars roaring around the race tracks cause fans to grab their ear plugs.
Will the day come soon that NASCAR will be dominated by quiet, high-speed electric cars? It might surprise some race fans that NASCAR, as part of its very successful “Green Initiative,” will have an electric pace car called the Ford Fusion Energi, which will pace the field at both Michigan International Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends that can travel at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
I spoke recently to Mike Lynch, the Managing Director of Green Innovation for NASCAR based in Daytona Beach. Prior to leading NASCAR Green, Dr. Lynch was a tenured professor at Purdue University with his lab funded by the National Institutes of Health.
B/R: Is it possible soon that we will see NASCAR with electric car racing in the future?
Dr. Lynch: We are not going to limit ourselves to using one type of energy powered car. We are looking at all types of cars—electric-, diesel-, hybrid-, solar- and gas-powered machines. Our goal is be as “green” and as friendly to our carbon footprint as possible.
We are very very happy with the success of the ethanol fuel which is Sunoco Green E 15. In all of our three series the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide and of course the Sprint Cup, the cars go faster, further and emit far fewer gas emissions. We have also done a great deal of work with the Iowa corn growers on the with the E-15 project.
B/R: How involved are the fans in the Green Innovation?
Dr. Lynch: According to a 2012 study conducted by Toluna, NASCAR fans are twice as likely as non-fans to view their household as very green—always looking for new ways to positively impact the environment.
The same research shows that NASCAR fans are multiple times more likely than non-fans to closely associate NASCAR with being environmentally responsible—not surprising since NASCAR fans are more likely to see the various initiatives the sport has in place to positively impact the environment.
B/R: What about the tree planting program?
Dr. Lynch: At each of our tracks on the NASCAR circuit we are planting trees. We are also with the help of our sponsors planting trees in parks in all of the cities where we race. Our Race to Green includes a call-to-action for fans and the industry to pledge trees that will be planted across the country, as well as in a number of areas recently devastated by natural disasters.
NASCAR fans can visit www.NASCAR.com/green to donate trees—$1 per tree for a 2-3 foot sapling—to be planted in those stricken areas around the country like Super Storm Sandy.
As the sports media columnist for the Washington Examiner, I receive all of the press releases from the broadcast networks. All quotes were obtained in a first hand interview arranged by NASCAR.
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