Several months ago I heard an interesting piece on NPR about a new study concluding that Hollywood was among biggest polluters in LA. Which makes sense, as building elaborate sets and shooting in remote locations is going to consume a lot of materials and energy. However, after listening to the story I couldn't help but wonder about the environmental impact of another form of popular American entertainment: NASCAR. While I feel as though I'm doing my part by minimizing my driving, it all seems trivial when NASCAR runs about 35 races a season, each with about 50 cars, getting about 5 miles per gallon, for 500 or so miles. That's about 1 million miles at 5 mpg, not even counting practices. This probably won't happen anytime soon, but NASCAR teams should be able to earn points by increasing their fuel efficiency. Such a move would be a great thing not only for the environment but for the progress and perception of fuel efficient vehicles.
Now, let me just say that while I don't follow racing, but I do appreciate the engineering and driving skill that goes into a NASCAR team. But in this day and age, fuel efficiency should be a factor in determining the best car and team. Also, to reduce the overallemissions and fuel consumption of the entire league just shortened races to 350 or 400 miles instead of 400 to 600 miles would make a huge difference. One day the cars running inNASCAR will be vastly different from today, but it seems like an incredibly difficult topic to approach. After all, any politician that might attempt to changeNASCAR would probably suffer from huge public backlash. Still it would be interesting to ask some NASCAR fans what they think racecars will be like in 20 or 50 years.
Lastly, one thing that I hope doesn't happen anytime soon is the creation of a large, mainstream, alternative-energy racing league. While an electric racing league might be a positive PR move for electric cars, it still just amounts more energy consumption. It would be much better to try to decrease the environmental footprint of an existing league, rather than start a new one. Slowly allowing NASCAR cars to run biodiesel, ethanol, and other locally sourced fuels would be one way to do that.