NASCAR, Lockheed Martin link arms to promote green technology

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NASCAR is aiming to make auto racing greener and spur interest in renewable energy among the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The racing organization announced a partnership yesterday with Lockheed Martin Corp. to promote renewable energy at racing events, highlight the use of biofuels in NASCAR cars, and provide paid internships and other education opportunities for young people in science, technology, engineering and math (the STEM fields).

The partnership is backed by the American Council on Renewable Energy, a group that promotes the use of renewable fuels and electricity.

The initiative is about “learning and finding creative new ways to package and communicate and educate around the renewable energy spaces,” said Michael Lynch, NASCAR’s vice president of green innovation, at the launch of the project yesterday in Lockheed Martin’s Arlington, Va., offices. “If we can find ways to get that ‘aha’ moment in folks in the next few years working together, we’ll have accomplished an awful lot.”

NASCAR has beefed up its green efforts over the past few years, installing renewable energy projects at half a dozen racetracks in the country. NASCAR drivers have also widely adopted high blends of corn-based ethanol.

The new initiative is aimed at the 100 million NASCAR fans throughout the country and the many corporate sponsors of racing teams and events.

A major part of the program is using NASCAR to make the STEM subjects more appealing to young fans who attend or watch racing events with their families in the hopes that they will go into renewable energy fields as adults.

Lynch said NASCAR brings to the table millions of kids “paying rapt attention” to the sport and wondering how cars can go so fast.

“The way we can answer that question is literally tens of thousands of different ways by actually plugging into the common technology or quantitative or scientific principles that underline … making one of our stock cars go really, really fast,” Lynch said.

NASCAR and Lockheed Martin will seek partnerships with the racing organization’s corporate sponsors to promote renewable energy to a wider public than just NASCAR’s fans.

The groups will also turn to social media. NASCAR, for example, will help the American Council on Renewable Energy tap into the racing organization’s massive Twitter base.

The overarching goal is to take the nation closer to addressing climate change, said Michael Brower, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy.

“We have to redouble our efforts. We need to work smarter, harder, with greater solutions,” Brower said. “We at ACORE believe that this Lockheed Martin-NASCAR Green partnership is the first step in making those kinds of solutions.”