If Bill Nye the Science Guy sees his dreams fulfilled, NASCAR will one day be NESCAR, or National Electric Stock Car Racing.
In a blog post for Aeon this week, Nye compelled NASCAR to think about racing electric cars, because making the switch could “change the world” by inspiring others to go electric as well, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
“We could convert all of our racecars to electricity – right now – and show the public exactly what electrons can do. And most significant from my point of view, everyone in the crowd, every race fan, would want an electric car! The market for electric cars would go crazy.”
For now, it looks as though Bill Nye’s fantasy will remain just that.
Over at Fox Sports, a critic of Bill’s plans has already rejected it as impossible; Fans won’t like the quieter cars or the lack of exhaust fumes in the air, and nobody will want to pay to convert all of their cars to electric.
Right now, Bill Nye wrote that NASCAR “just brings me down.” They have “ancient tech” like carburetors, valve pushrods, and cast-iron engines. The cars consume too much fuel, getting as little as three miles to the gallon, which is to Nye’s “way of thinking, astonishingly bad.” Not to mention the massive amounts of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere at every race.
But, the NASCAR car has plenty of horsepower — 850hp compared to the meager 532hp that a Tesla Model S can achieve. However, that’s today, and Bill Nye wrote that Tesla can achieve much more in just three years. When Nye was a kid, racing was about the future.
“Despite the excitement, NASCAR kinda breaks my heart. It’s a celebration of old tech. It uses gasoline-burning instead of electron-flowing…. I wish NASCAR were more about the future instead of the past. When I was a kid, auto-racing was where new technology was developed rather than where old technology was preserved or even celebrated.”
Once a futuristic electric car can race as fast as a old-fashioned NASCAR car, the former will bring even more benefits to racing and its fans.
Pit crews wouldn’t refuel gas tanks, but press a button to remove the old battery pack and pop in another, Nye wrote. As a sign that Bill may not fully understand the appeal of NASCAR racing, he notes that the races would be quieter and fans could hear the crowd and talk to their neighbors without screaming.
Formula E racing has already given the idea a test drive; they had their first environmentally-friendly car race two years ago, and it’s doing very well.
“Unless you have sports like this, we’ll never get to a world that’s carbon-neutral by 2050,” argued Richard Branson.”I hope 10 years from now, 20 years from now, the smell of exhaust will be as much a thing of the past as the smell of cigarettes in a restaurant.”
Tom Jensen over at Fox Sports doesn’t buy any of Bill Nye‘s argument, beyond admitting that the general idea is a solid one. Once he looked at the reality behind a switch to electric racecars, Bill’s picture stopped looking so rosy, or plausible. Not only does he argue that fans won’t like quieter races, no one will want to pay for the conversion.
Teams spend a fortune on car building and the owners won’t want to start from scratch. NASCAR engine shops employ plenty of people, and millions of dollars have been invested in shop construction. Plus, there simply aren’t enough models to choose from; right now, Chevy and Ford offer two dozen models and Toyota has a few hybrids.
Bill Nye argued that NASCAR is already pretty environmentally conscious — it recycles tires and oil, as well as the bottles and cans left at the tracks by fans, and gives their leftover food to the hungry.
“I’m not saying we should all be driving turbine engine-powered cars. I’m saying racing should be about the future rather than the past The sooner NASCAR (or NESCAR) embraces electric drive trains, the sooner the US can be the world leader in automotive technology, and the sooner we can stop pumping carbon dioxide into the air every time we want to go somewhere to get groceries, pick up the soccer team, commute to work or watch a race.”
What do you think of Bill Nye’s idea?
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