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Oxymoron of the day: Green NASCAR?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Yep, that's right.  NASCAR is going green.  How can the sport of cars going around a track for no purpose other than the sole enjoyment of going (or watching someone else go) really fast (hopefully faster than the other guy) be going green?  Are they getting a bunch of electric Tesla Roadsters to race?  As Ryan McGee of ESPN reported in his article, Darrell Walltrip (three-time Cup winner who's turned his talent into his new role as a TV analyst) says "The coolest thing about these cars is the noise...Forty-three electric cars rolling by going 'weeeeeee' just isn't all that cool."

 

So no.  They're not doing that.  Instead, they're looking to an invasive plant, the kudzu.  In a nut shell, they'd take kudzu, mash it up into ethanol...

 

And turn NASCAR from this...                            Into this....

 

(Some of you might know that NASCAR has been using ethanol and ethanol blends for some time...however, this has all been corn based.  And corn isn't necessarily stellar biofuel stuffs.)  Just to give you a little background around this crazy kudzu plant...it was introduced to the US in 1876 from its native Japan with the hope of being a food source, as well as ornamental groundcovering. 

 

Unfortunately, the kudzu took a little bit too well to American soil - between 1935 and 1950, the Soil Conservation Service encouraged farmers in the southeastern United States to fight soil erosion by planting kudzu.  And then it took over.  And I mean, it REALLY took over.  This bad boy can grow a foot a day.  Yeah, you heard me - 12 inches a day!  Holy crap, is right.  It's had devastating effects on the environs of the southeastern US, consuming vehicles, homes, and choking the life out of trees and other plants.

 

But have no fear!  Your children, your homes, your cars...they will all be saved.  By NASCAR! 

 

In all seriousness...it might not be a terrible biofuel.  According to Dr. Rowan Sage, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, kudzu could be a solid option.  Growing it would clearly be a snap because it's so voracious all on its own.  Harvesting existing "crops" would (hopefully) help restore some ecosystems.  And if the fuel is at all efficient....perhaps we've found the silver lining to the "plant that ate the South."

 


Edited by stins - Mon, 30 Jun 2008 17:17:13 GMT
post #2 of 13

Formula cars (Indy 500 type) have been running on E100 for quite some time now per organization rules...  Hard for a guy to not like a good car race - NASCAR would definately not be the same without the noise!  LOL!   At least it shows biofuels can deliver real horse-power, even tho not as much as petrol.

post #3 of 13

Actually I've read that if an engine is built specifically to burn ethanol (as opposed to flex fuel vehicles, that have to be able to run on both) you can make it as or more efficient than gasoline. Apparently ethanol can withstand more compression than gasoline from the piston or something like that, so when you make an engine that is intended to run solely on ethanol you can take advantage of this.

post #4 of 13

Stins, I'm guessing your the post of this blog.  Your title smacks as elitist and a bit short sighted.  Just becaue you aren't  a NASCAR fan doesn't mean that they shouldn't go green.  Someone could argue the virtue of any activity by its greenness and anyone can shoot a hole in their argument for a multitude of reasons.  What if a NASCAR fan came up with the next engine that runs on water because he loves to see Jr in pole position?  We have to encourage all sectors of our economy to green themselves.  Maybe KUDZU can be a short term panacea and maybe my parents can get their backyard back from this invasive species by selling it to ethanol plants. 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jihad:

Stins, I'm guessing your the post of this blog.  Your title smacks as elitist and a bit short sighted.  Just becaue you aren't  a NASCAR fan doesn't mean that they shouldn't go green.  Someone could argue the virtue of any activity by its greenness and anyone can shoot a hole in their argument for a multitude of reasons.  What if a NASCAR fan came up with the next engine that runs on water because he loves to see Jr in pole position?  We have to encourage all sectors of our economy to green themselves.  Maybe KUDZU can be a short term panacea and maybe my parents can get their backyard back from this invasive species by selling it to ethanol plants. 

 

Thanks so much for your comments.  I did not intend to insinuate that NASCAR's efforts are not appreciated.  I am in agreement with you that would should indeed encourage all industries and sectors to green what they can.  In fact, NASCAR's interest in kudzu-based biofuel could potentially have great impacts on furthering the technology, which of course would have positive effects far beyond the sport's own carbon footprint.

 

In regards to the title, on first pass, "green" and "NASCAR" do seem to be oxymoronic in a certain sense - Wikipedia's article on "Criticism of NASCAR" notes that 6,000 gallons of gas are used in the average Sprint Cup weekend and that Sprint Cup cars (at race speeds) get 2 to 5 MPG (the article does go on to state "Consumption under caution can be estimated at 14-18 mpg, based on comparable engines generally available to the public").  The average American drives 12,500 miles per year in a 24.6 MPG vehicle.  That means annually, the average person uses 508 gallons of gas.  So in one weekend, NASCAR uses the equivalent gasoline resources of 11.8 people.  In ultimate terms, 12 people doesn't seem like a ton.  But some believe that the environment really gets left in the dust.

 

And if a NASCAR fan comes up with an engine that runs on water (although I hear those aren't really viable), my hat's off to them!

post #6 of 13

The question was not 'should NASCAR go green?', the question was whether it's even possible for NASCAR to go green.  When you consider the fact that the 'sport' consists of guys driving cars around in circles solely for entertainment purposes, it's a valid question.  Even if they use biofuel, it still requires energy to harvest and process the biofuel, transport the cars and people around the country, etc. etc.

 

I don't see why you can't acknowledge that NASCAR is a pretty un-green 'sport' and still enjoy it.  I mean, it pisses me off that basketball players make millions of dollars that they don't deserve and that could be much better spent, but I still enjoy watching the NBA.  It's a simple fact that NASCAR consumes a lot of energy for the sole purpose of entertainment.  That's not to say it shouldn't become as green as possible - obviously using kudzu biofuel would be a big improvement over using gasoline.  Nevertheless, I do think that green NASCAR is an oxymoron.

post #7 of 13

Let's take it one step further. How about the NFL? How much fuel do 40,000 fans use to drive to the stadium to just watch a bunch of guys fight over a ball? Multiply that by 20 games a weekend. How about the TV trucks and hot dog vendors? Major league baseball fan? 162 games per year X 15  teams (30 teams w 2/game) = 2400 games with say a 29,000 fan/game. How many gallons there?

 

How about the big earth day march in SF? How much energy do the extra BART trains use to haul all of the bodies to march down market street? Have you tried to park there?

 

I don't want to appear overly sensitive but you can't pass judgement on other people's entertainment just because they are in cars. (Yes, I own a racecar but not a stock car) As a matter of fact, I have started an alternative energy company as a direct result of looking for cheap methanol for my sprint car. (from bio-waste)  One ex-drag racer that I know helped to build the countries first hydrogen powered bus. Racers are enginers and problem solvers.

 

Un green? Let (s)he who is without sin cast the first stone. I for one do not want to live in a world where the only excitement is watching kudzu grow.

 


Edited by d0xunt - Tue, 01 Jul 2008 06:48:12 GMT
post #8 of 13

Also, Formula One, with out a doubt the most technologically advanced cars in the world are now going to allow regenerative breaking technology. This will advance the technology by leaps and bounds.

 

http://www.evworld.com/syndicated/evworld_article_1160.cfm

 

post #9 of 13

One more thing. I love the gratuitous stock car models being eaten by kudzu!

 


Edited by d0xunt - Tue, 01 Jul 2008 08:02:53 GMT
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by D0xunt:

Let's take it one step further. How about the NFL? How much fuel do 40,000 fans use to drive to the stadium to just watch a bunch of guys fight over a ball? Multiply that by 20 games a weekend. How about the TV trucks and hot dog vendors? Major league baseball fan? 162 games per year X 15  teams (30 teams w 2/game) = 2400 games with say a 29,000 fan/game. How many gallons there?

 

How about the big earth day march in SF? How much energy do the extra BART trains use to haul all of the bodies to march down market street? Have you tried to park there?

 

I don't want to appear overly sensitive but you can't pass judgement on other people's entertainment just because they are in cars.


 

For the first part, you're talking about transportation of people to the stadium.  We're talking about the environmental impact of the sport itself.   Two different things.

 

Secondly, it's not a matter of passing judgement.  It's a matter of evaluating the environmental impact of the sport.  And I'm not saying other sports are good either - you've got athletes flying all around the country in airplanes all the time.  However, nobody is trying to claim the NBA is green.  'Green NBA' would be something of an oxymoron - but so is Green NASCAR.

post #11 of 13

classic example of marketers greenwashing....which can only lead to a negitive outcome. Claming NASCAR is "green" is a flat out lie obvisouly which the public will pick up and not believe their dedication the the enviroment while NASCAR fans will not care. I can't believe NASCAR is the #1 most watch sport in America!

post #12 of 13

Actually the NFL has been claiming the Superbowl having close to zero impact due to their huge recycling efforts of the waste from game day, and probably some other reasons as well...  I appreciate their efforts - and wish them to continue, but to say the Superbowl is green is greenwashing as well.  In order to have a Superbowl, you must have fans, jets for the players (both teams as likely not in their home town), blimps, helicoptors, security vehicles, vendors, and on and on and on.  It is not possible to be green by environmentalist standards.  They can improve their impact tho - which is what the NFL really has been trying to do.  All the other games of the season - yikes!

 

Let's face it.  Sports typically are not that green.  As soon as you have a "stadium" of any sort, you can nit-pick it down to the source of the concrete used to build it.  What kind of climate control, etc.  It's a losing argument.

 

Our best bet is to continue to encourage all sports to improve their efforts across the board ... and then simply enjoy the sport.  Sports have so many fitness and cultural pros and positive fun for international relations, I don't want to see them go away over environmental regulations... except maybe "curling" (just kidding!  LOL).

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSolar:

Our best bet is to continue to encourage all sports to improve their efforts across the board ... and then simply enjoy the sport.  Sports have so many fitness and cultural pros and positive fun for international relations, I don't want to see them go away over environmental regulations... except maybe "curling" (just kidding!  LOL).


 

Sounds reasonable to me.

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