If Bill Nye, the Science Guy had his way, NASCAR would change its name and its focus.
As in NESCAR – for National Electric Stock Car Auto Racing.
The noted scientist wants NASCAR to switch from gas fuel for its race cars to electric power – ala Formula-E.
Nye has a blog entry on Aeon.co entitled “If NASCAR Embraced Electric Cars, It Could Change the World.”
In his post, Nye reveals he has a number of family members who grew up in – or still live in — NASCAR country. He’s also gone to races, particularly at Martinsville Speedway, which he talks about in his blog post:
“The cars go just crazy fast, and they are amazingly loud … or LOUD!! But beyond the heart-pounding, Are-these-cars-going-to-jump-the-barrier-and-kill-me? exciting quality of it, it’s depressing – leastways depressing for me as an engineer. Because here I am trying to envision the smart, efficient transportation technology of tomorrow, and there is NASCAR doing the opposite – celebrating a very old transportation technology of yesterday.”
Nye’s goal is noble: he wants to cut car emissions, as well as help address climate change by converting “all of our racecars to electricity — right now — and show the public exactly what electrons can do.
“NASCAR kinda breaks my heart. It’s a celebration of old tech. It uses gasoline-burning instead of electron-flowing. I wish NASCAR were more like NASA. I wish NASCAR were more about the future instead of the past.”
To be fair, NASCAR has an extensive green program already in place, including the largest recycling program of all major professional sports leagues.
Plus, fuel used to race contains 15 percent ethanol.
Nye’s proposal for pit stops was quite intriguing: no longer would cars come in for fuel from gas cans.
“It’s easy for me to imagine an electric racecar that completely outperforms a gas-powered competitor,” Nye wrote. “Instead of refueling a gas tank, the electric racecar pit crew would change battery packs.
“The car would be designed to roll up a ramp. The battery pack would be disconnected and dropped out. Moments later, a fresh battery pack would be lifted into place, and off our electric racer would go with time in the pit comparable to what it takes to refuel and service a conventional gas-powered racecar.”
Some of Nye’s ideas are interesting. But instead of NESCAR, maybe a better name might be NAESCAR or NASCARE or maybe NASCAR-E.