A Gentler, Quieter NASCAR? Bill Nye Says "It's Electric"
According to a recent blog article by Bill Nye, The Science Guy, he is heartbroken that NASCAR is still a celebration of old tech. He dreams of the day when we can take all of our vehicles and turn them into mean, green, clean burning vehicles. His mom and siblings, nephews, nieces and others have roots around Danville, VA and he attended races at Martinsville Speedway, known as the paperclip, the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit. It's exciting, loud, fast, and disappointing - for the engineer in him.
"The obvious, straightforward, We’re-already-just-about-there answer is to convert our entire ground-transportation fleet – trains, trucks, buses and cars – to electric motors with batteries to store energy the way that gasoline tanks store energy in our fuel-burning vehicles. In the short term, NASCAR could help get us there. We could convert all of our racecars to electricity – right now – and show the public exactly what electrons can do."
Pit crews would not have to carry heavy gas cans and spill fuel on the ground. They would change battery packs instead. The cars would drive up on a ramp, the crew would drop the old battery pack, and insert a new one. Imagine a 2 second fuel only pit stop!
The cars would be quieter. No roar of the engine. You could actually talk to the person next to you and hear what they are saying. The drivers could hear the roar of the crowd, instead of imagining it. And everyone in the crowd would want an electric car. In a few years, carmakers such as those of the Tesla S could produce a race car faster than the carbon emitting NASCAR designed stock cars of today.
In spite of this optimism, when I get to thinking about it, NASCAR right now just brings me down. They use ancient tech: carburetors, valve pushrods and cast-iron engines. But the biggest depressor for me is the fuel consumption. These cars get as little as 80 litres per 100 km, or 3 miles to the gallon (mpg). Sometimes they get away with up to 4.5 mpg. That is, to my way of thinking, astonishingly bad.
But not everyone agrees with Nye's philosophy.
I can't believe there are #NASCAR fans who actually think @BillNye's idea for electric engines in NASCAR is a good idea. It would ruin it.— Dana Horne (@DanaLovesRacing) January 26, 2016
Bill Nye wants us to go to electric cars? We're #NASCAR fans! We don't listen to scientists!— The Wolf of NASCAR (@CitizenKBA) January 26, 2016
Imagine going to a race and not hearing the roar of the engines. Not sitting in the stands among the excitement of the crowd buzzing for the next lap, the next crash, the next pass in the grass. With Bill Nye's philosophy of electric cars replacing fuel burning machines, the world of racing would not need earplugs to drown out the noise, and the idea of a quieter machine so the fans can talk to eachother? Bill, I don't know about you, but when I go to a race, I don't want to talk to the person next to me. I'm there to watch the race.