How NASCAR turned from the “dirtiest sport in the USA” into a renewable energy leader  


Keynote speakers including former Vice President and sustainability advocate Al Gore spoke at the 5th annual NASCAR Green Summit last week, highlighting the latest initiatives in their “Aggressive Action” campaign that aims to keep NASCAR at the forefront of sustainability in the world of Motorsport and the larger business community.

Various achievements were highlighted at the summit, including:

  • Pocono Racewaya 3-MW solar farm provides all the track’s energy needs and supports the local energy grid. With 40,000 solar panels on 25 acres of land next to the track, the Pocono solar project is the biggest renewable energy stadium project in the world, twice the size of the next-largest project.
  • Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon Raceway) – 1,700 solar panels offset 41% of the tracks energy needs. Protected habitat for wildlife including sheep and owls are maintained to minimise the environmental impact of the facility.
  • Michigan International Speedway – was extolled for its new solar-powered building, one of the largest producers of green energy in U.S. sports. The 31-suite building and track media center is outfitted with approximately 8,000-square feet of solar panels across the rooftop that generates about 70,000 kw per hour.
  • Darlington Raceway – was lauded for its partnership with Clemson University to grow switch-grass on speedway grounds, which will later be used in production of bio-fuels.
  • Kyle Busch Motorsports – while not a NASCAR facility, their 77,000-square-foot state-of-the-art corporate headquarters houses the latest technology in geothermal heating and cooling, cocoon insulation, solar controlled glass, and LED lighting that reduces energy consumption.

Major sponsors have joined NASCAR’s campaign with brands like Coca-Cola promoting recycling of cans and bottles, and tyre supplier Goodyear processing used tyres, the material being sold to various industries for next-generation usage such as power generation and for asphalt mixtures.

After being branded the “dirtiest sport in America”, NASCAR has made substantial sustainability gains in environmental improvement and technological advances, and a recent white paper shows the sport’s commitment to sustainability is on-going with seemingly no end in sight.