Has the time come for NASCAR to go green -- and help save the world?
Bill Nye thinks so. In an emotional new blog post, America's beloved "Science Guy" urges the popular stock car racing series to replace the "ancient tech" internal combustion engines that power the series' race cars for clean-running electric motors.
"We could convert all of our racecars to electricity -- right now -- and show the public exactly what electrons can do," Nye says in the post, adding that the series could spotlight the shift by changing its name to NESCAR (for National Electric Stock Car Racing).
Just think what an electric race would be like. It would be faster, and quiet. You could talk to the person next to you. The drivers could probably hear the roar of the crowd rather than having to imagine it as they do now. And most significant from my point of view, everyone in the crowd, every race fan, would want an electric car! The market for electric cars would go crazy. Manufacturers could not produce them fast enough. We could convert our transportation system to all-electric in less time than it took to go from horse-drawn to horseless carriage, 20 years maybe.
Sounds like an inspired idea. And Nye does make a strong case, allaying fans' possible fears that electric race cars would be boring by pointing out that electric vehicles -- even unmodified Teslas straight off the showroom floor --are capable of crazy high performance without spewing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
But as you might expect, Nye's not-so-modest proposal has some race fans belching smoke:
But others seem open to Nye’s idea:
For its part, NASCAR is pursuing its own efforts to curb pollution associated with its races. As part of its NASCAR Green initiative, which was launched in 2008, the series added cleaner-burning ethanol to the fuel that powers the cars and has ongoing programs to plant trees and recycle tires.
NASCAR has also said that it's open to the idea of alternatives to internal combustion engines -- including solar power.
As Dr. Mike Lynch, NASCAR’s managing director of green innovation, told Fortune in 2013: "Is that something that we have on our advanced concept radar screen? Is this something that we’re actively analyzing? Is this something we’re paying real professional attention to? The answer is absolutely yes."
So maybe Nye and NASCAR aren't too far apart after all?