The archaic sport of NASCAR

Now I know everyone loves to watch dozens of cars go around a track hundreds of times, but what are the environmental impacts that this has on not only the emissions it causes, but gas used as well as the water footprint it leaves behind when having such events. I am not saying that if we got rid of NASCAR all of our energy troubles would go away, or that it is the sole cause of the CO2 emissions that the world has, but I question whether it’s worth it to continue these pastimes knowing the damage already present and the amount that its adding to it. NASCAR uses 216,000 gallons of gas on races alone (some extremely higher estimates include it to be around 2 million gallons). This does not include pre-races, poll setting races, travel of semis to transport the cars, nor the practice laps ran. The gas used alone is what many dissenters to this argument call a drop in the bucket to the amount America uses annually, which is around 320,500,000 gallons. What I call it is a good start. If we were to stop the useless consumption of the gas this “sport” uses, it would be that much more of an unsustainable, highly sought after commodity for the future. True they do pay higher prices and use an ethanol type blend for their vehicles, but that’s still millions of gallons going to essential waste. They compare it to a NFL, or NBA game, but last time I checked the players were swilling Gatorade not fossil fuels.

To the naysayers that are toting that these events bring in money for the economy as well as being a multibillion dollar industry that would be harmful to the markets if it ceased to exist I have something else for you to ponder. The fact that the gas being burned emits carbon dioxide, harmful to many mammals, highly useful to much of the plant life. But too much in concentration of the atmosphere will eventually be too much for plants to handle killing them off. The mass concentrations of C02 also would cause climate change (and natural disasters seem to follow those around like a lost puppy). So to say that these emissions that are sent out into the air cause pollution that cause climate change that cause severe weather resulting in a higher probability for major natural disasters ending in huge amounts of money lost in collateral damage probably washes out with how much is being made at these events anyway. Save money, stop NASCAR.

The final topic I will bring up will be how much water is wasted on the production of the cars (tires alone that are used in obscene abundance), gasoline, the electricity to light these huge stadiums, etc. Not only is the gas that is being used in these races in limited supply we have a much less talked about issue in the public medium of water consumption and its limited supply. A single gallon of gasoline uses 97 gallons of water in the refining of crude oil. A tire uses 518 gallons (a single race usually uses about 500 tires), for a single car it needs approximately 39,000 gallons to make. This water usage is set on the back burner for now but we as a country need to realize that it along with oil will eventually run out.
To help out the global pressures of using up the resources of the planet at an exponential rate set on total devastation of these resources, we need to start thinking of ways to reduce as well as use alternate means to alleviate the needs and costs of these items. I think giving up a sport to maintain the livelihood of generations to come is a small price to pay, one that the ignorant and spoiled Americans are all too readily against doing.

Rachael Hindman


5 responses

  1. The effect that NASCAR has on the environment is something that is troubling to me due to the restriction that the EPA and other agencies are putting on the car manufacturers in this country. We are working toward raising the fuel economy and reducing the emissions in all cars that are on the streets today, however it doesn’t appear as though NASCAR has taken into consideration the damage that it is doing to the environment. These race cars are consuming copious amounts of fossil fuels, and it appears that little is being done to restrict the amount. Even though NASCAR claims that the economic benefits outweigh the environmental consequences, it doesn’t change the fact that they are still damaging the lives of not only the plants and animals in the surrounding environment but also the quality of life of the people that live near where these races take place. The air pollution alone should be enough reason for the government to step in and to evaluate the situation. I personally don’t want to subject myself to these poisonous emissions, and think that it is unfair to ask that from anybody.

    Eric Allman

  2. As the fuel economy continues to rise, I find it interesting that NASCAR is not a topic of emergence and interest. Of course, all vehicles do some sort of damage to the environment but these race cares are causing an excessive amount of damage. They are dominated by an abundance of fossil fuels and use a heavy amount of water to run. While these both have an effect on our environment, there is not much being done to limit their use. NASCAR continues to damage the lives of plants, animals and humans that it surrounds. The government should view this as a reason to step in and appraise the situation even though it may be stimulating the economy.

    Frances Allen

  3. It has been mentioned a few times in these posts about the money that goes into NASCAR and the effect it has on the economy. To put an actual dollar sign the industry generates I don’t know but it is obviously a lot. Reason for this is it’s the most commercialized “sport” in America. Every last inch of the cars are covered with logos and sponsorships cover every aspect of the races. When these large spectacles come to town, everyone is bringing their wallets and they invigorate life into the racetrack and local regions incredibly. The Michigan International Speedway in the tiny town of Brooklyn holds over 100,000 spectators. If NASCAR were to shut down, the 2 mile track and grandstands would sit idle and be left vacant. The amenities built to accommodate this speedway town would likely follow suit. Another case is NASCAR features automobiles from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota; there’s so much technology that comes from creating the highest performance race car. The automobile industries direct link to NASCAR is important because as these companies earn profits and use their revenues on auto technologies, it branches down to consumer vehicles running more efficiently, lasting longer, and having better emissions. In a way NASCAR is the auto industries research testing laboratory.


    1. Arik, couldn’t we just commercialize a different sport and make that a past time? I know they tried with soccer and arena football and failed, but there has to be something out there that can replace car racing. Not just Nascar, but funny car, stock car, etc. I know you said that it was also a testing ground for new auto research, but they aren’t testing the things that are important in making the cars more Eco-friendly or less dependent on gasoline. They are doing the opposite in fact with some of the engines they are toting out. If they wanted to really do something have NASCAR get behind electric cars to race, or have them invest some of their billions in hydrogen cars that are light years away, or even have the mpg research be headed by them so we can catch up to china and Europe by 2015 in their emissions and mpg standards. I find if it frivolous for us to waste a depleted resource that we have gone to war over because we want something to watch on TV for a couple hours.

  4. I had never realized that Nascar has such a huge impact, its really unbelievable. I think many people are ignorant about this problem, I think raising awareness will for sure reduce interest in such events. I am sure that airplanes use much more gas than NASCAR, probably in just one day, however NASCAR is less necessary. As ARIK mentioned we can not forget that this is the auto industry reseach testing lab. Anyways great article, I hope that we can all do whats best for this world.

    Anas Aldasouqi

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