Gentlemen, Stop Your Engines! calls out the environmental impact of car racing and seeks to shut it down, but this race fan isn't so sure

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One of my friends alerted me to, a site committed to the complete abolition of motorcar racing in the U.S. The site lists factoids about and dangers of a “sport” that guzzles fossil fuel like it was Miller High Life. Some of the facts are truly disturbing, like the fact that “burning rubber” releases hazardous chemicals into the air (and our lungs) and that Michael Schumacher earns enough money to feed 2.8 million African children for a month.

Here’s where my problems with the site start: For one, Michael Schumacher races Formula 1 cars in Europe. While that sport might have similar environmental impact in terms of fossil fuels, he is not associated with NASCAR, and some of the European races take place on pre-existing roads, rather than special tracks used only once or twice a year. Also, none of these factoids cite a source–a big red flag. 

It would also help if the site would be less condescending to fans. The authors make NASCAR drivers out to be idiots, stating in the factoids section that “NASCAR fumes are so poisonous that less than 55% of racers have even a high school diploma, and only 3% have any college education at all.” It doesn’t help that they have a link to on their front page.

I’m conflicted. As someone working to reduce her carbon footprint (somewhat unsuccessfully thus far, but I’m trying), I should be all for the banning of NASCAR. I agree that the egregious burning of fossil fuels should be curtailed because it does have a negative environmental impact. However, I grew up 15 miles from the Nazareth Speedway, an Indy-car racing track once deemed America’s fastest oval mile. I met Paul Newman and Mario Andretti there. I have the best memories of my dad from that place, standing in the pits being transfixed by cars whizzing by at the speed of light.

We’re not rednecks (guido thugs, maybe, but not rednecks) and I don’t appreciate being talked down to by people who assume that all race fans are Neanderthals. That’s not the way to actually convert people to the green message; when you share a message with a tone of disdain, you’re only preaching to the choir and alienating the very people you’re trying to reach. Failing to provide scientific evidence and blaming NASCAR for 9/11 doesn’t help the case, and makes the green movement look like ultra-liberal, unpatriotic, crazy activists.

I guess we really shouldn’t believe everything we read, even if we wish it were true.

Are you a race fan who’s conflicted between being green and being entertained? Leave your comments below!

– Adrienne Saia Isaac

Photo credit of the legendary #3 car, Dale Earnhardt: mandj98m

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