Fuelling the future

NASCAR is not known as a green sport, but recent initiatives are providing the irst step towards an environmentally friendly future

NASCAR, the sport with 5.8-litRe V8S, has gone green. the Ceo and chairman of NASCAR, Brian France, was over in London recently and told me all about the sport’s relatively new green credentials, from the renewable fuel that’s blended with ethanol to the 40,000 solar panels which act as pocono Raceway’s main power source. the ‘Sustainability’ leaflet I was handed also points out the 15 owl boxes that have been installed at Infineon Raceway.

As much as we’re all huge supporters of the owl here at Motor Sport, let us concentrate on the bigger story. Bio-ethanol was introduced in 2011 in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and truck series and is known as Sunoco Green e15. The blend of 15 per cent ethanol and 85 per cent renewable gasoline has been approved for all road cars built in the past 10 years – a huge number of vehicles in a country the size of the USA. And as team owner Richard Childress points out on the NASCAR website, “If it’s good enough for my racing team, it’s good enough for everyday street cars.”

But surely the sport is all about the sight, sound and even smell of the machines?

“It still sounds the same, smells the same,” France points out. “We did a lot of testing as there was a risk of having a big failure with blown engines.” In fact, for many, the change has gone unnoticed – perhaps because of the low percentage of ethanol – and some teams have even reported an increase of 10bhp since the switch. “NASCAR has accumulated nearly two million miles of driving – in practice, qualifying and racing laps – on e15, without a hitch,” said Childress.

“We looked at every green technology,” says France. “We have a lot of divisions so we can test things in some of the lower categories, even electrification.”

Electric NASCAR? only as a demonstration, he assures us. we can all breathe again.

Ed Foster