NASCAR Races to the Green Finish Line

NASCAR might be one of the organizations that have faced the ire of environmentalists, but things are about to change.

Old School NASCAR- Richard Petty 1992
Image by mandj98 via Flickr

NASCAR might be one of the organizations that have faced the ire of environmentalists, but things are about to change.  Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway is planning to build a three-megawatt solar power plant that will provide the facility with electricity.  The raceway hosts two NASCAR events each year.

Once completed, the three-megawatt solar power plant will be the biggest solar power system ever installed at a sports facility.  It will also be the largest one in Pennsylvania State, to date.  There are two more three-megawatt solar farms in development within the state.

At least 40,000 photovoltaic panels will be installed on a 25-acre lot right next to the raceway that used to be a parking lot.  There was a ribbon cutting ceremony before last Friday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.  According to Pocono Raceway’s president Brandon Igdalsky, the target date of completion is Spring of 2010.

Igdalsky stated that he came up with the solar farm project when their electric bill rose up to 40% because of deregulation.  The total cost of said project ranges from $15 to $17 million.  That might be a big investment, but the solar farm is expected to pay for itself in no time.  Plus, Pocono Raceway is planning to sell the excess electricity generated, to the PJM Interconnection.

NASCAR is not usually connected in people’s minds with the concept of sustainable energy, what with its excessive use of fuel in each race. But Pocono’s solar power plant should give NASCAR racing some “plus” green points.  Some studies show that NASCAR produces 4,300 metric tons of carbon-dioxide each year.  Environmentalists have also called upon the racing organization to use unleaded fuel for their race cars.  The organization gave in and started using unleaded fuel in 2008.

Auto racing organizations are trying to incorporate green methods within their races.  The American Le Mans Series requires its competitors to run on either E85 or E10 fuel.  The United States Department of Energy, SAE International, and the US Environmental Protection Agency recognize the ALMS as the only green racing series.

Sports facilities are turning to solar power around the world.  To date, this includes Taiwan’s National Stadium, Cleveland’s Progressive Park, San Francisco’s AT&T Park, and Switzerland’s Stade de Suisse Wankdorf. London is building a wind turbine that will generate the power needed for the 2012 Olympic Games.

NASCAR’s green initiative team has their focus on making greener buildings, working with the sponsors’ green efforts and educating their fan base on green issues.  Pocono Raceway’s solar power plant is just the start of more green things to come.

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