mph, 50 NASCAR drivers compete in cars that travel about 5 miles per
gallon of high-octane, leaded gas. In a 500-mile race, each 20-gallon tank
will be filled five or six times. That’s incidental compared to what each
team’s entourage of some 25 support vehicles uses, trekking 50,000 miles
around the country during a season of racing. All 50 teams combined use
Paul Weber is a physics professor at the University of Puget
Sound, where he pursues interests in contemporary energy issues.
more than 5 million gallons of fuel per year, in addition to tires and vehicle maintenance.
Residents around racetracks have environmental concerns related to noise and exhaust.
Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency have shown that lead particulates from exhaust
can remain airborne for as long as 10 days, prompting requests for a switch to unleaded fuel. But
NASCAR won’t make the change until 2008. Among the side effects of lead absorption is
permanently impaired neurological and intellectual development in children.
Auto racing’s use of resources—fuel, tires and equipment, as well as land for racetracks,
stadiums and parking—draws attention because of its high profile as a sport. NASCAR has
taken steps to reduce fuel consumption by shortening some races and by encouraging fans to
carpool. Concerns about environmental impact are being addressed by thorough site assessments and by constructing multiple-use facilities including “green” components such as recreation trails. As we face a future that will increasingly feel the effects of limited land, resources
and fuel, continuing efforts such as these are needed.
The more urgent step we must take is to improve fuel mileage and efficiency standards.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bureau of Transportation statistics, on an average
day about 200 million gallons of automobile fuel are consumed by the 135 million passenger
vehicles registered in the United States. If the current national average of 22 miles per gallon
were increased by just 1 mile more per gallon, we would each year save 600 times the amount
Recreation is a basic need of human life. Even activities that are seemingly low impact, such
as hiking, mountain biking and skiing, require fuel and resources to reach the trailheads. Since so
much of what we do requires automobile travel, I can’t say that NASCAR should be banned
without calling for a ban on those activities as well. But conservation in all areas is required. C
Is the United States ready
for a woman president?
from experts in the field:
Lucas Mast works in public relations and runs the popular RPM
www.rpmblog.com), which covers the intersection of NASCAR
and popular culture.
WHILE IT HAS BEEN AROUND for almost 60 years, NASCAR has
come to the forefront of American popular culture in the last few years.
You can’t open up a major newspaper, turn on the news or flip through a
magazine without seeing something about NASCAR.
Whether it’s Lowe’s driver Jimmy Johnson on Live with Regis and
Kelly, Jeff Gordon in national print ads for Tag Heuer or Dale Earnhardt Jr. hawking Wrangler
jeans, drivers are everywhere you look. NASCAR has come a long way from its humble
Southern roots, and, with more than 75 million fans, America’s new national pastime offers a
number of benefits that translate beyond the confines of the track.
Creating jobs: From the drivers and crew to the workers at the track and writers who cover
the sport, NASCAR directly and indirectly employs tens of thousands of people across America.
Promoting American businesses: American companies across various industries, including FedEx, Waste Management, AAA and Wells Fargo, are the latest to recognize the value of a
NASCAR sponsorship and reach out to the most loyal consumers in the United States.
Safety on the track and on American highways: NASCAR’s focus on driver safety means
race drivers can usually walk away from crashes unharmed. But NASCAR’s research and development also affects the safety measures that are included in American passenger cars.
Patriotism: From the pre-race military flyovers and traditional singing of the national
anthem to the sponsorship efforts of the armed forces, NASCAR fans support our troops and
respect the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
Boosting local economies: It is estimated that having a NASCAR race in a city can bring as
much as $150 million in revenue to the local market. When people come to the race, they eat
at local restaurants, shop at local stores and stay at local hotels. From Sonoma to Charlotte,
when NASCAR comes to town, the locals benefit in a big way.
Fostering family values: Whether it’s the history of popular drivers from the same family
(Petty, Earnhardt, Labonte, etc.) or the family-friendly atmosphere at the track that has
replaced the family trip to Disneyland with the family trip to the Daytona 500, NASCAR values the family on and off the track. C
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individuals or organizations represented
and are presented to foster discussion.
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