That's Racing: Parking NASCAR wouldn’t save country any more gas

Friday, June 27, 2008 at 1:49am

The other day I came across a blog explaining how we can cure our gas pains:

Eliminate NASCAR.

The blogger was outraged over the “waste” of fuel by cars running in circles for entertainment.

According to his logic (?) if we stop 43 cars from racing for a few hours every weekend we’ll solve our fuel shortage. We’ll bring OPEC to its knees. Prices will plunge. Let the good times – and the Hummers – roll.

Guess the blogger doesn’t realize his idea is about as original as a manual typewriter. The park-NASCAR/save-gas proposal is older than bell-bottoms. Old, as in the Carter Administration.

It was during that bygone gas crunch that some prehistoric blogger (known as a Letter to the Editor writer) suggested that the way to gain oil independence was to unplug NASCAR.

NASCAR’s inimitable PR machine quickly chugged into action and produced some interesting fuel factoids. For example: NFL teams, flying to games on just one weekend, consume more fuel than NASCAR uses in an entire racing season. The NFL burns more gas during exhibition season than NASCAR burns in an entire year.

The way to really save fuel, by blogger-logic, is to eliminate the NFL.

Add major league baseball, the NHL and the NBA to that fuel-hardy list. Their teams spend their interminable seasons crisscrossing the country in their chartered jets. NASCAR uses drops of fuel by comparison.

Ditto thousands of college teams. They all fly, and fly frequently.

And what about the fans? Those 100,000 pigskin pilgrims who wend their way to Neyland Stadium several times each fall don’t ride in on orange bicycles. Try calculating that gas bill sometime. Then multiply it nationwide for the four-month long college football season.

Don’t forget high school football and basketball, with its gadzillion fans. Like the college faithful, they don’t walk to the stadium. Convoys of team buses burn oceans of fuel transporting Lions and Tigers, Wildcats and Bears.

Does NASCAR burn a lot of gas? Absolutely. Do other sports burn as much or more? Unquestionably.

Reading the blogger’s complaint about auto racing reminded me of a recent TV news story about soaring fuel prices. A lady was being interviewed as she gassed up a SUV the size of a Greyhound bus. As the gas gurgled in … and in … and in … she wailed about how much it cost.

Apparently it never dawned on her that her excess is a big part of the problem.

Likewise, the racing-is-wasting blogger doesn’t realize that other sports run on fossil fuels, just like NASCAR.

Don’t single out NASCAR for blame. Every sport – and sports fan – is equally culpable when it comes to indulging in our fuelish pleasures.

To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the guzzler, and he is us.

Larry Woody is a veteran sportswriter in Nashville and has covered auto racing for almost four decades.

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By: yazoo on 12/31/69 at 6:00

So your logic is to leave what is as is? I'm curious to know whether nascar factored in all of the logistical fuel consumption: The dragging of those race vehicles from track to track. All of the ,uh, team members travel fuel consumption. All of the energy consumed by the track operations?Plain and simple, the amount of carbon monoxide, and other toxic emissions as a direct result of operating internal combustion engines that utilize fossil fuels in the course of of "entertainment" is absurd. NASCAR's core function is an air polluting enterprise. *That's* why it ought to be targeted.

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

yazoo, you gave Indy cars a pass. Does this mean, as alcohol burners, Indy gets your seal of approval?

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Let's take this another direction. I wonder how many gallons of gasoline are burned nationwide in one day, just sitting in bank drive-thru lines and fast food windows?

By: tjfree on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Eliminating any one thing is not going to solve the problem. It's something that EVERY single person has to work on. I take less trips by car and carpool when possible. I love racing and football and most of all hockey, but if one or all of the sports made efforts to be more conservative, I would be ok with that. But targeting any one sport or one group is ridiculous. Yazoo, every sport has fans and equipment and all the same things you mentioned. Yes, racing (in all forms, not just NASCAR) creates pollution. But so do many, many other things.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If NASCAR was eliminated Larry Woody would have nothing to do for nine months. He'd sit at home looking at his Dale Earnhardt shrine until football season came along, then he would write the usual homilies about UT football.One thing teams could look at (and they probably will with fuel costs rising) is reducing engine size again, maybe to about 4.5 liters. The last big change was from 427cid down to the current 358cid.I also wonder if fuel costs will affect what is driven to the track for these races. Plenty of RV's, SUV's and yeehaw pickups in the mix now. Maybe the track parking lots will start filling up with Hondas and Corollas.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

300 million people could never conserve enough to balance the demand of 3 BILLION Chinese and Indians comeing online who want to drive.Best soulution is to get rid of the democraps/obstructionalists and start drilling to add to the supply to meet the increase demand.Its not rocket science it is basic economics of supply and demand.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Jeez id, does everything have to be about allowing big oil to do whatever they want? How do you propose to accomplish 'getting rid of the democraps/obstructionalists'(sic)?

By: slzy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

it may be time to merge athletic leagues and conferences. no NL or Al,just MLB for instance,dividing up by time zones to save fuel.work out the details among yourselves.one college football saturday burns more gas than the whole nascar season,i would imagine.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Or maybe merge all the sports...a player shoots a basket, trying to avoid tacklers, and if he is successful he jumps into a stock car and drives around a mile of bases, trying to avoid getting hit by opponents in similar stockers....nah, bad idea.