NASCAR waves a green flag

The Pocono Raceway, a Pennsylvania track which hosts NASCAR championship races, has converted its facilities to solar energy.

The Pocono Raceway

NASCAR, an organization whose legions of fans revel in speed and thundering gasoline engines, is not readily associated with green energy. Nonetheless, the Pennsylvania track that hosts its top racing series has taken it upon itself to convert to solar power - with enough energy left over to power 1,000 homes.

The Pocono Raceway announced today that it would have its solar arrays up and running some time next week. Track president Brandon Igdalsky told the Associated Press that the raceway had invested US$16 million into the project, which makes it the first NASCAR affiliated track to run entirely on renewable energy.

The solar farm is comprised of 40,000 photovoltaic panels, and will generate approximately three megawatts of electricity, according to NASCAR. NASCAR says that Pocono Racetrack will be the largest solar-powered stadium in the world once it is fully operational.

The track is the location of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. The facility is comprised of over 250 acres, and was founded in 1974. A spokesperson did not return a telephone call asking for comment by time of publication.

Managers spent two years deciding whether or not to green light the project, studying, "every model, every what-if," Raceway president Brandon Igdalsky said in a prepared statement. "...We kept going back to the same answer -- the project will last for 40 years, and that's a lot of time for that thing to be sitting there and making power. If we can do our little part not only for what we need, but also for the environment and society as a whole, it's a win-win-win."

Over 6,000 gallons of fuel are consumed during the Sprint Cup, according to figures NASCAR disclosed in 2006. An environmentalist critic of the organization has estimated that over 2 million gallons of fuel are burned at NASCAR tracks within a single season.

NASCAR has promoted fuel savings off the track through encouraging its fans to care for their own vehicles with ongoing preventative maintenance that reduces fuel consumption. It has also collaborated with local communities to build more environmentally friendly racetracks over the past decade.

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