Motorsports and ecology aren't exactly hand-in-hand concepts. Getting the most speed out of a car usually involves pumping a lot of fuel through it--just to end up back where it started. To improve the green image of racing, many series are taking steps to use greener fuels--and now NASCAR is among them, with Sunoco Green E15 fuel on the docket for 2011 and a new partnership with American Ethanol.
It's not quite as large a stride toward eco-racing as the American Le Mans Series has taken, but it's an important step. With NASCAR's huge fanbase, it has the chance to draw a lot of attention, too.
But is that necessarily a good thing? Ethanol, while piped into our pump-gas supply at a rate of 10 percent at present, with E15 now OKed for 2007 and newer cars, isn't always the greenest of alternative fuels. When produced from corn, ethanol's "wells to wheels" carbon balance can be less than optimal, and issues with food displacement, excess fertilizer runoff, and other secondary impacts to ecology and economy all weigh against it in some studies.
Whatever the reality of ethanol use, NASCAR is certainly excited about the deal. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of flag-waving going on over the deal. "There is nothing more American than NASCAR, and there is no fuel more American than ethanol. We are so proud that the bounty of American farming will be used in NASCAR racing," said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.
Check out an informative, patriotic, Tom Selleck-narrated video on the topic below.