Welcome race fans!
The Daytona 500 is just a few days away and this year, NASCAR fans have even more to look forward to: The 58th annual race will take place at the new Daytona International Speedway, the world’s first motorsports stadium.
The Daytona 500 is jam-packed with activities for attendees, from performances by Florida Georgia Line to inspection station tours. The Sprint FANZONE will also include a solar panel canopy powered by Florida Power and Light, where fans can catch some reprieve from the Florida heat.
NASCAR knows how to put on a good race, but it’s their sustainability initiatives that have us cheering. Since 2008, NASCAR Green has been working hard to reduce the sport’s environmental impact by partnering with sustainability leaders, partners, employees, and fans.
From recycling efforts to the use of renewable energy, NASCAR Green’s initiatives are impressive. In addition, at its annual summit last September, NASCAR Green announced NASCAR’s membership of the Green Sports Alliance, where they join the ranks of other like-minded sports leagues in the pursuit of making sports more sustainable.
But, it’s NASCAR Green’s engagement with fans that blew us away. The conversations they sparked over the years and their fans’ commitment to sustainability shows that NASCAR Green’s mission is being heard loud and clear by NASCAR’s biggest fans.
According to their website, as compared to non-fans, NASCAR fans are twice as likely to state that their house is green and more than 75% of fans are more likely to support the blending of ethanol and gasoline to fuel NASCAR cars and their own cars.
The NASCAR Race to Green™ Initiative is another program hosted by NASCAR Green that resonates well with fans. Held over Earth Week, the annual initiative promotes sustainability among fans, stakeholders, employees, and more.
In 2014, 300,000 trees were planted thanks to a digital tool by NASCAR that allows fans to donate trees. And in 2015, over 10,000 fans learned their carbon footprint through NASCAR Green’s online calculator, which shows that fans are paying attention.
Find out your own carbon footprint by visiting the footprint calculator and let us know what you find in the comments! We would love to compare some numbers.
We could go on about all the great things NASCAR is doing in the world of sustainability, but instead, we pulled together a list of 6 noteworthy initiatives they’re taking to green the racing industry:
1. Recycling with Liberty Tire Recycling
NASCAR partnered with Liberty Tire Recycling to keep their old tires out of landfills. Annually, NASCAR and Liberty Tire recycle about 120,000 tires each year and total, Liberty Tire repurposes over 140 million tires!
Products created from recycled tires include athletic fields, crumb rubber for manufacturers, and rubber for playgrounds.
2. Creating the NASCAR Green Clean Air Program
NASCAR Green’s Clean Air Program is responsible for planting trees across the country - particularly in areas that are in need of forestation. They also created a digital tool allowing fans to donate trees to areas in need.
According to their website, NASCAR “has planted enough trees to offset carbon emissions for all NASCAR national series racing for the past five year, plus the next 40 years.” That’s a lot of trees!
You can plant a tree with NASCAR Green by visiting their Race to Green website.
3. Using Bio-Fuel with Sunoco and American Ethanol
Since 2011, NASCAR has had a partnership with Sunoco and American Ethanol to use bio-fuel to fuel its race vehicles. The American-made biofuel reduces NASCAR’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.
4. Promoting Solar-Powered Speedways
Many NASCAR race tracks use solar power as an alternative energy source, including Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Pocono Raceway is home to a 25-acre solar farm that provides enough power to provide electricity for the race facility and 300 homes in the area.
5. Piloting Food Waste Programs
Last year, NASCAR worked on a pilot program to compost or donate leftover food from Richmond International Raceway (RIR) in Richmond, VA. RIR partnered with Sustainable America and Natural Organic Process Enterprises to reduce the amount of food waste during race weekends. Food that is prepared, but not sold, is donated, and food waste is composted at a local facility.
After partnering again this year, over two tons of food was saved and over twelve tons diverted to compost as a result of the program.
Bonus: The Wooly Weeders
While it isn’t the work of NASCAR Green, the Wooly Weeders is a company we couldn’t not mention in this post.
Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA partnered with a local sheep herder to provide over 3,000 grazing sheep - the Rocky Mountain Wooly Weeders - to keep nearly 1,600 acres of grass around the raceway trimmed. This service is particularly handy for the fire-hazard region.
According to the Wooly Weeders’ website, “Sheep not only eat the grass and brush that pose a threat from fire, they trample what they won’t eat, and cover the remaining fuel with dust.” The partnership is a win-win for the Wooly Weeders and the raceway.
We would love to get our hands on some old NASCAR banners or drivers' suits to make upcycled products. Is this something you would buy? Tell us in the comments below!
Like what you're reading?
The Relan blog offers news on sustainability around the world, highlighting sports teams, communications, and corporations that are making the world a greener place to live. Join our mailing list to receive the latest news straight to your inbox.
Photos: 1) Flickr/tequilamike 2)Flickr/John Flannery 3) Flickr/Jennifer Low