Big Idea Wednesday: Monster Mile Per Gallon

Filed in Delaware by on August 8, 2012

Twice a year, Dover Downs is the home of NASCAR races. As a guy that owns two hybrids and tries to be a good environmental citizen, I am appalled by the senseless waste of tires, oil, gas that goes on through the various qualifiers and races that go on throughout the weekend. But I get it. People like the personalities, drama, noise, smell and hoopla that surrounds the weekend. Fine, I have made my peace with it.

But I would love to see Delaware further the environmentalism that we already have embraced with our recent Fisker, Bloom and the unfortunate Bluewater Wind deals.  I would like to see Delaware sponsor a NASCAR-style race for electric and high-efficiency cars. Not unlike the para-Olympics which happen at the Olympic host city in the weeks following the more familiar Olympics, we could sponsor the fuel-efficient race on the weekend following a NASCAR weekend.  The beer-soaked campers of NASCAR fans in the parking lot could be replaced by the beer-soaked campers of graduate engineering students. The roar of oversized engines would be replaced by the sound of low-drag tires on the rough macadam of the banked turns.

Maybe it’s just me, but the drama of a race between a dozen cars with 3 gallons of gas to complete their 200 mile race seems much more interesting.

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  1. DEvoter302 says:

    Would you like some cookies with your Kool-Aid?

  2. puck says:

    If we can shoot pumpkins at them while they are racing, I think it will be wildly popular.

  3. pandora says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but the drama of a race between a dozen cars with 3 gallons of gas to complete their 200 mile race seems much more interesting.

    Unfortunately, it is just you.

    The beer-soaked campers of NASCAR fans in the parking lot could be replaced by the beer-soaked campers of graduate engineering students.

    As the mother of an undergrad engineering student let me assure you that NASCAR isn’t on the radar.

    I’m so sorry, LG. But NASCAR and environmentalists/engineering majors just ain’t happening.

    I still adore you!

  4. puck says:

    I do like the idea of a university/corporate sponsored event along those lines. Maybe on the grounds of the old Chrysler plant. I’m not sure high-efficiency vehicles can make it up the banked turns.

  5. rsmitty says:

    Yup, it’s you. Plus, what puck said about the turns. It might actually be amusing to watch those cars constantly slide down the banking. After five minutes it might get boring, but hey, until then…

    FWIW, NASCAR has quite a bit of well-educated engineers in their employ, as do some of the shops run by the owning-teams (the bigger names, not the single-car owners).

  6. liberalgeek says:

    Meh. My Civic Hybrid is 10 years old and gets 45mpg and can get up on that turn. How fast do you think those “NASCAR Experience” people go?

    I’m not actually envisioning 100K spectators, but I doubt that the Para-Olympics gets the turnout of the Olympics either.

  7. bamboozer says:

    How about we just enforce the drunk driving laws on race weekend instead?

  8. liberalgeek says:

    We could use the DUI fines to fund the purse for the race the following weekend! I like it!

  9. Joe Cass says:

    I’ve read that 10,000 gallons of fuel is used to complete a 500 mile race with a full field of qualifiers. Oh my. Now I don’t need to defend ANYTHING but shouldn’t you make a case against the Monster Mile et al in order to bash it? Something like, “I’m a super environmentalist and the local economy means beans to me.” You could even go with ” I’m the hippest hybrid driver ever and the fuel economy evolution, lighter frames and impact resistant engineering brought to us by the racing circuit mean little because I burn less gas.”
    Its like you people toil to find something to bitch about and declare terrible. miniscule

  10. The Man says:

    @LG – Dream on tree hugger!

  11. jason330 says:

    I love it. Don’t listen to the wet blankets. Listen to your muse.

  12. liberalgeek says:

    I’m not making a case against NASCAR, as odious as it is. I am making a case FOR an event to be held on the following weekend. I’m not surprised that NASCAR fans find the concept of fuel-efficient racing as unexciting. It’s just the sort of “burn more oil, we’ll bomb more countries if we have to” mentality that I have come to expect from the Sussex Republicans.

  13. jason330 says:

    It would be fun, and could probably attract a lot of cool sponsorships.

  14. SussexWatcher says:

    Sounds cool. Like an X-Prize for automobiles. Toss it up to the guvnah.

  15. liberalgeek says:

    Actually, there is an X-Prize for fuel efficiency.

    The difference here is that I want an actual race. Not some event where we won’t know the winner until they get the mass of the remaining fuel, but one that will be won by someone crossing a finish line first.

  16. John Young says:

    u mad bro? NASCAR is GREEN:

  17. puck says:

    I’m now liking the idea of doing it at the speedway the week after Race Day. But obviously there would have to be more than one race, in multiple categories, and an overall festival atmosphere. Gasoline hybrids would probably be the heavyweight division. Maybe demos of high-end concept cars.

  18. fightingbluehen says:

    Maybe they could just race bicycles around the track. Oh wait, those bikes have rubber tires made from non renewable fossil fuels.
    Let’s just have a foot race in bare feet with the contestants wearing only natural renewable fibers. That would be awesome. Then the fancy most educated and more caring than anyone else spectators could feel good about themselves as they jet home in their planes that guzzle thousands of gallons of non renewable fuel.
    This is the paradox. Most people who subscribe to the whole “green energy” movement are pretty much of the privileged class, and therefore like to travel on jets. If you fly around on jets, your hybrid cars and solar panels are just a statement, a token gesture for your own benefit and enjoyment.
    These people can preach to me when their passenger planes get off the ground under electric power, and their carbon footprint is actually less or equal to mine. Won’t happen, even with all the windmills and solar paneled house bling that they can get their hands on.

  19. xstryker says:

    Daily record high temperatures outnumbered daily record lows by more than two-to-one over the last decade across the continental United States. (h/t

  20. fightingbluehen says:

    Ten years you say. That’s a very long time isn’t it?
    BTW, weather stations have been trending that way since most of them where built around the second world war. I was taught by world renowned climatologist Dr. John Mather that it has to do somewhat with urban sprawl which was marginal when the stations where built, and heat retention of growing urban environments as well as the short term warming trend over the past one hundred years.

  21. John Berryhill says:

    I think you are looking at the fuel consumption from the wrong end. It is not about propelling a couple dozen vehicles a distance of 200 miles. It is about entertaining some tens of thousands of people for an afternoon, and many more watching on television, who aren’t moving at all.

    If not for NASCAR, many of those television watchers might get up and do something, or more specifically, go somewhere in their own vehicles and thus consume fuel.

    So, you really can’t have a complete analysis without considering the potential fuel savings of having perhaps millions of people sit at home for a good part of the day, instead of being out driving. Now, whether the numbers work out that way, I don’t know, but there could be a potential net savings.

  22. meatball says:

    LOL, FBH, like urban sprawl in the Alps, Artic Circle, Greenland and Oklahoma.
    Jeff Masters, Wunderblog
    Note the University of Delaware tie in in the iceberg piece.