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NASCAR’s electric future and an inside look at its first carbon-neutral race team

Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark is on the brink of embrace a brand new automobile, and not simply the Next Gen mannequin that NASCAR is unveiling subsequent week.

Newmark is making ready to swap out his Ford Raptor, an off-roading pickup truck marketed as “the toughest F-150 to date,” for Ford’s first all-electric crossover, the Mustang Mach-E. He not too long ago put in a charging station at his residence in South Charlotte.

“It will be a change because I’ve had a big truck for about 10 years,” Newmark instructed The Observer.

But the longtime team president for the two-car Cup operation stated he’s excited for the change as a result of he needs to do his half to reduce carbon emissions and set an instance for his two youngsters. He shared this, together with takeaways from a 2021 e book by Bill Gates, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” whereas standing in entrance of a brand new electric charging station within the public parking zone of Roush Fenway Racing’s 22-acre campus in Concord on Thursday.

Newmark acknowledged that he’s no knowledgeable as regards to sustainability and carbon neutrality, however these are languages he’s needed to study for enterprise functions. In February, Roush Fenway Racing introduced that it was the first carbon-neutral NASCAR team — a course of that concerned quantifying and monitoring its greenhouse fuel emissions during the last two years, submitting receipts and journey information to a third-party auditor and buying carbon offsets with the assistance of sponsor Castrol to succeed in net-zero emissions.

The announcement was a product of the team’s December contract renewal with Castrol, which extends via the 2022 season. Roush Fenway Racing dedicated to working with the sponsor to attain carbon neutrality, as specified by a clause within the contract. It was a improvement Newmark known as “novel” in his 10-plus years of sports activities enterprise expertise. For Castrol, a subsidiary of oil and fuel big BP, it’s a part of the corporate’s purpose to attain net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.

“As we continue to work with partners, sustainability is a key initiative,” Castrol vp of selling Rayne Pacek instructed The Observer. “So every partner that we work with will have some sort of step forward into leaving the world a little bit better.”

In line with the announcement, Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman raced a muted all-white Castrol paint scheme at the Daytona street course in late February, which changed the usually green-and-red scheme on the No. 6 Ford. The change required buy-in from extra companions like Kohler, Oscar Mayer and Coca-Cola, amongst others, to change their logos. But the environmentally aware pondering at the race store has gone past a paint scheme, and illustrates an industry-wide shift in how companies, together with NASCAR groups, are viewing their environmental affect.

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Steve Newmark, President of Roush Fenway Racing, discusses in regards to the steps the group is taking to chop down its carbon footprint at the team’s Concord campus. Jeff Siner [email protected]

Newmark stated he acquired calls from three totally different team presidents of bigger NASCAR organizations asking how their groups might replicate the method of attaining carbon neutrality following Roush Fenway Racing’s announcement. Newmark declined to reveal these names, however shared that his suggestions to every was that it was an “unbelievably worthwhile” course of.

“We didn’t take things that were a detriment to speed on the track,” he stated. “You can do this by thinking about things in your business operation that doesn’t impact what we’re trying to do to win races.

“It really doesn’t cause a complete upheaval of how you operate your business. It’s being smarter in how you design things. It’s being smarter in how you purchase energy. It’s being smarter in how you lay out office space.”

On the competitors facet, NASCAR is flirting with an electric future. The Next Gen automobile is package-protected for electrification and hybridization, that means it’s designed with area so as to add an electric motor and battery. NASCAR president Steve Phelps said last weekend that the {industry} was trying at a hybrid part in its race vehicles as early as 2023 previous to the pandemic, however now “it may very well be ‘24.” He said the timing could be synonymous with a new manufacturer joining the sport.

NASCAR’s three present producers, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet, wish to subject race vehicles that look much like what customers see within the showroom and are aligned on the purpose of shifting towards cleaner know-how, in line with Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson. He stated that the {industry} is exploring a “host of different technologies” to implement within the subsequent three to 5 years.

“For NASCAR and motorsports, when you use the word ‘relevancy,’ if you don’t include electrification on some level then you’re not really being credible,” Wilson stated.

Last week, Toyota launched its first all-electric SUV concept, the bZ4X mannequin, that may hit the market subsequent 12 months as a part of the corporate’s dedication to attaining carbon neutrality by 2050. Toyota has stated its purpose is to reduce CO2 emissions from its automobiles by 90% by 2050 in comparison with its ranges in 2010.

“Over the next decade or so, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of electrification,” Wilson stated of the bZ4X.

While “net zero” would possibly really feel like a company buzzword, in apply it’s an intentional course of, and one that might contain extra NASCAR and sports activities groups within the future, pushed by companions and customers. NASCAR launched its “NASCAR Green” initiative greater than 10 years in the past. The {industry} dedicated to utilizing a blended biofuel (Sunoco Green E15) throughout its three nationwide collection (vehicles, Xfinity and Cup), expanded its at-track recycling efforts and launched an expansive tree planting marketing campaign. Pocono Raceway additionally installed solar panels close to its observe in 2010 to offset 2,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly. Sustainability isn’t a brand new idea to the game, however the {industry}’s efforts might acquire new life based on corporate and consumer interests in a post-pandemic world.

Roush Fenway Racing had a singular partnership with Castrol to facilitate the method of attaining carbon neutrality in accordance with PAS 2060, a world customary, and an eye towards sustainable design lengthy earlier than it needed to show it to sponsors.

“We do this because it is the right thing to do to affect climate change,” Roush Fenway Racing chief sustainability officer Ian Prince stated. “We also do this because nobody else is doing this, so it gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace for finding new partners as well.”

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Ian Prince the Chief Sustainability Officer at Roush Fenway Racing talks in regards to the steps the group is taking to chop down their carbon footprint on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Jeff Siner [email protected]

Prince has labored with team proprietor Jack Roush for the reason that Nineteen Nineties. He helped design the Roush Fenway Racing campus, together with the team’s important constructing that opened in 2004, which encompasses a rainwater assortment system that drains water into surrounding ponds and irrigates the panorama, photo voltaic shades on the home windows and reflective panels on the roof to cut back warmth from the solar (and thus the quantity of air-con required), in addition to sensory lighting indoors to attenuate electrical utilization.

The group additionally has big bins sitting in lots throughout from its important constructing labeled “Plastic,” “Steel” and “Aluminum” to separate the supplies for recycling, and has been utilizing recycled oil from Castrol in its race vehicles, which incorporates the No. 17 Ford pushed by Chris Buescher, since Martinsville. Those practices are a part of the team’s dedication to recycling 90% of each race automobile, together with oil, rubber, aluminum, metallic, plastic and carbon fiber. Prince stated the toughest half isn’t essentially appearing on sustainable practices. It’s quantifying any output and subsequent change.

“Being carbon neutral requires you to track all those things, quantify it and then have a process for continuation of improvement,” Prince stated. “You want to figure out where you are, figure out where you want to go, and then come up with a plan to get there.”

The team reported that it emitted 4,982 metric tons of greenhouse gases (CO2e) in 2019, a minuscule quantity within the scope of the United States’ complete 6,558 million metric tons of emissions reported by the EPA for that same year.

A recent Harvard Business Review article notes the challenges and partially misguided hype round attaining a sustainable agenda. “Reporting is not a proxy for progress,” the article says. “Measurement is often nonstandard, incomplete, imprecise, and misleading.”

Newmark assured: “This is not just a publicity stunt.”

Third-party ERM CVS signed off on the team’s submitted carbon neutrality qualifying assertion, which incorporates an define of its carbon administration plan, its calculation method, offsets and targets. RFR’s quantity was achieved by monitoring ranges of fuel consumption, direct emissions from company-owned automobiles and planes, grid-supplied electrical energy, bought items and companies and worker commuting, amongst different outputs.

Last 12 months, Roush Fenway Racing decreased its greenhouse fuel emissions to three,634 metric tons and stated its purpose is to attain a 20% discount in its mixed pure fuel consumption, direct emissions from company-owned automobiles and planes, and grid-supplied electrical energy by 2022 from its baseline 12 months in 2019.

The team is planning to put in photo voltaic panels on its store roof and convert half of the team’s roughly 40 Ford-provided automobiles which can be utilized in a non-competition capability by drivers, executives, crew members and workers, to hybrid or electric vehicles — therefore Newmark’s change to the Mach-E. He stated he’s anticipating the automobile to reach in a couple of weeks. Newman already has certainly one of his personal.

The driver not too long ago made an look in Uptown Charlotte sporting a fluorescent security vest and carrying a hand-held grabber system for a group cleanup occasion organized by Castrol and Keep Charlotte Beautiful, a neighborhood chapter of nonprofit Keep America Beautiful.

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NASCAR driver Ryan Newman picks up trash alongside Alleghany Street in Charlotte on April 13. NELL REDMOND

Newman was among the many 63 volunteers, together with team crew members, who spent a couple of hours choosing up a collective 850 kilos of trash alongside Freedom Drive two weeks in the past. He was featured in a recent video competing with Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods to select up observe of their respective cities as a part of a Castrol-promoted spot.

“Castrol has led us by example and we hope to lead the rest of the garage,” Newman stated. “Which is obviously bigger than (NASCAR) when you talk about communities that are associated with racing.”

The organizations’ efforts have made these exterior racing communities take discover as properly. Anita Davis-Ayers, a 63-year-old Charlotte resident, volunteered at the trash cleanup and stated she didn’t observe NASCAR nor know of Newman’s celeb regardless of the cameras, however she noticed the team’s presence as a constructive.

“It makes me feel like they’re getting it,” Davis-Ayers stated. “This has got to be an everybody effort, corporations, we all have to pitch in, so yes, it makes a difference to me.”

Davis-Ayers stated that what introduced her out to the occasion was extra free time in the course of the pandemic and a want to protect the planet for future generations, nevertheless small the steps.

“I’m trying to learn how to live better,” she stated. “This is a start.”

Newmark shared the sentiment from a company perspective.

“I don’t want to overstate that what we did is going to somehow change the world,” he stated. “But the hope is it sets an example and other small companies see that they can take steps to help combat climate change.

“And if a lot of small businesses do that in the aggregate then you have a bigger impact.”

NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 following an internship at The Washington Post. She performed Division I volleyball at Columbia University earlier than incomes her grasp’s diploma at the University of Southern California.
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