High fuel costs could affect NASCAR

June 20, 2008 5:43:10 PM PDT
NASCAR is coming to the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma County this weekend. They'll be burning a lot of rubber and even more fuel. And with the price of gasoline as high as it is, it's no surprise that even NASCAR is looking for ways to conserve.

The need for speed takes plenty of fuel. The typical NASCAR race car gets six miles to the gallon, and while they put only 17 gallons into the tank at a time, they're paying up to $8.29 a gallon for super-premium 114 octane gas. Because of this, NASCAR is looking ahead to new environmental fuels.

"It really wouldn't save the country that much fuel, but symbols are important, and with such a huge fan base, we want to be a leader, and we want to be able to educate our fans about something new and exciting," says NASCAR Corporate Communications Director Ramsey Poston.

NASCAR says it's unsure what the fuel of the future will be, but it probably will entail redesigning engines to yield the best performance. Even fans know that a switch to ethanol can reduce mileage.

"I already know that my vehicle's not getting as good fuel mileage with just running 10 percent ethanol," says racing fan Traci Niles.

Lower mileage would be an issue because it would mean more pit stops for refueling.

Die-hard NASCAR fans think lower performance will ruin the sport.

"They're not going to be as fast. They're not going to be as exciting, and for as little as they do, I think it's not going to really be a big factor and hurt the atmosphere," says racing fan Tommy Dittfeld.

"Newer fuels now aren't as good as the older fuels. Every time they change something, it's not going to be the same. Keep it the same. That's what racing is," says NASCAR Fan Jeno Horvath.

NASCAR already has gone through one fuel switch -- from leaded to unleaded gas. However, fuel economy is not a big factor for the 120,000 fans who show up to see and hear the raw power of highly tuned stock cars. They show up in gas guzzlers themselves.

The future of NASCAR then is going to be green, but exactly how fast that's going to be, nobody seems to know...not yet anyway.


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