Racing and the speedway brings a lot of things to mind, but going green typically isn't one of them. It may seem a bit odd but like most places, at the track, they've figured out they can make some money by going green.
When you think racing, you don't think so much recycling. But can racing ever be green? Speed television host Rich Christensen thinks it's possible. "any performance shop that isn't keeping their eye on green right now, to get cars to go faster and cleaner, is making a mistake."
At the zMax drag way last week, people were showing off what could be the next generation of racing vehicles. Green vehicles like the hybrid, motorcycles run on biodiesel, and electric cars all participated in the showcase.
"Really it's just an evolution" says Christensen. "Why would we go backwards. If there's ways to make it more efficient, faster and cleaner, why wouldn't we?"
But will an industry built on the backs of the internal combustion engine, where the cars get 5 mpg, be able to embrace something other than fossil fuels? Up to now the problem with electric cars has been a lack of speed.
Ron Cerven of Li-ion Motors of Mooresville showed that their wave car can go 90 mph, and they build a battery powered race car that tops out at 160. Racing, he believes, has to wean itself off foreign oil. "Where's our fuel coming from? How are we controlling the cost of oil? The answer is we're not. We have no control over the cost of oil."
Tracks are already picking the low-hanging fruit, like recycling oil. Safety-Kleen says its collects more than a-quarter million gallons of used motor oil at races each year.
Tracks, like the Charlotte Motor Speedway, recycle trash. Scott Cooper, with the speedway, says bottles and cans that once went to the dump now fill up ten tractor-trailer loads. But he says getting cars to turn over a new green leaf will be a bigger issue. "Like anything it's a matter of time", he says. "It's something that's going to develop over time."