Stock car racing going green -- at own pace
By Paul Thomasch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - NASCAR, the U.S. car racing circuit, is waving the green flag. Like other leagues, companies and organizations, NASCAR has studied a variety of ways to become more environmentally sensitive, including using alternative fuels in the racing cars, Chairman Brian France said on Tuesday.
"I think we have to -- for the same two reasons the country needs to do it: energy dependence and environmental concerns," France said at the Reuters Media Summit in New York.
NASCAR fans often drive long distances to attend races, sometimes in large, gas-guzzling vehicles like recreational vehicles.
"I haven't met anybody in the last couple years who doesn't think it's a good idea to be as efficient and be as environmentally friendly as you can," France said.
So far NASCAR is mainly in the discussion phase. It has held talks on environmental issues with business partners like Sunoco Inc and General Motors.
"We have a very small impact, but we have a symbolic impact," added France, whose family owns NASCAR, or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
"We're trying to understand where it's all going to end up," he said. "We've got Toyota Motor Corp, GM, Ford Motor Corp, Chrysler; we've got lots of people who want to help us. We've got lots of ways to get educated and figure out ... how we can participate."
Similarly, NASCAR answered calls for improved safety by introducing new vehicles called "Cars of Tomorrow" into some races this year. It will use the cars, designed to be safer and more cost-effective, over the entire 2008 schedule for its top racing series.
Meanwhile, France said today's high energy prices were pinching fans of the racing circuit.
"We are feeling it a little bit," he said. "We're more sensitive to high energy prices than maybe most sports, and the reason is how far our fans drive to events."
(Click on http://blogs.reuters.com/category/themes/mediafile/ to see Reuters MediaFile blog)
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)