Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Heartland: Roush Fenway Racing Saving the Planet?

When it comes to being ecologically sound, I will be the first to admit that I am not a good person. I refuse to sort my trash into three different bins; I do not rinse out every can or empty jar. Heck, I don’t even return my empty beverage cans for the nickel deposit. They, too, usually go straight to the trash.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; I am not a waster. Why, I have even been known to reuse paper plates that I just had a bologna sandwich on! But it has been my experience that most efforts at recycling are way more costly than they are truly worth.

As an example, when I worked for a large worldwide corporation, the top brass suddenly decided that the company must “go green.” Paper use was going to be reduced, paper was going to be recycled, trash was going to be sorted, soaps in the bathrooms were going to be replaced with “green” soaps, sanitizers and cleaning solutions used by the nightly cleaning crew were replaced with 100% biodegradable stuff… and so on.

To start this great initiative, months in advance of our “green” date, the company started printing out flyers – a total of three separate ones, as I recall. These three flyers had to be placed, by hand, on every desk in the 160,000-square foot building to make employees aware about the initiative.

Now, this building is cubicle city – so much so that every cubicle had a street address within the building – but yet three pieces of paper had to be placed on each desk to inform the occupant that the company was, in fact, going to use less paper and thus save trees. Naturally, since I was the one that had to put the papers on the desks – a task that took over eight man hours in addition to my regular duties – I probably not so nicely pointed out that an email would probably be much more in line with the ultimate goal.

What was I thinking? I was told to shut up and get to work.

Then, there was the paper recycling, which amounted to approximately at least two tons a night. All that had to be stored in bins and now we had to pay someone to come get it twice a week. And speaking of money, the new soaps and cleansers used in the bathrooms and by the cleaning crew were twice as expensive as the ones previously used – doing half the job. Therefore, almost a full third more had to be purchased (I know… I did the invoices every week!)

All this stuff came in the name of saving the planet, because man is such a scourge upon it. Please pay no attention to the bottom line or that the stock price is now down from over $9 to just under a buck. We are saving the planet! And making someone in a really big office feel better to boot!

Well, NASCAR is no exception to this growing phenomenon. In the news this week, Roush Fenway Racing has announced that they are pledging to be even more “environmentally sustainable” than in the past – releasing some pretty impressive statistics to prove it.

Here is a bit of their press release….

Roush Fenway Racing is upping their pledge to promote more sustainable operations and better environmental management. Always a leader in the sport of NASCAR on and off track, Roush Fenway has been working with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to reinforce its position as a leader in environmental stewardship in the industry.

Through the team’s current efforts, they recycle almost 96% of every racecar. In 2008, the team recycled over 66 tons of waste (plastic, paper, and metal); reduced the overall amount of waste produced by more than 11 tons; reduced storm water runoff by 1.51M gallons; and saved 2.10M gallons of water by not using potable water for irrigation.

Wow! 96% of every racecar is recycled? Why do they need to build so many then? I was not aware that the country was in danger of being overrun by old, unsightly, non-recycled racecars. I wonder how much it costs to recycle a racecar? How much more did RFR spend in ’08 compared to ’07 to have its 66 tons of recycled stuff removed?

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And then, we get to the storm water runoff. What did they do, plant more grass over the parking lots? Since when is storm water runoff a problem ecologically? Oh sure, I know first hand how bad it effects the flooding situation when you pave over every little piece of grass in a city – but is natural runoff a problem? And who was the idiot that thought of using potable water in the first place for irrigation? Yeah, I know what they did.

Just as most golf courses do, they built a pond to contain the runoff and now use that water to water the grass to keep it green so they can mow it twice a week. Yeah, that’s real ecologically sound.

This whole thing reminds me of NASCAR’s idiotic shortening of the races back during the oil embargo of the 1970s. The 10% reduction of race lengths really pulled the country out of a bind back then, didn’t they?

Yes, folks; I know that every little bit helps. But I will bet dollars to donuts that RFR’s expenses have increased right in line, if not more than, the amount of planet saving they have done. It is all done simply to make someone feel good. After all, yesterday was Earth Day!

But do we really need to save the Earth? When you consider what nature can do to the environment with one tiny volcano – not to mention a massive eruption the likes of which our species has never seen, but yet we know happens over time – and then you consider the span of time man has actually been on the Earth “ruining” it… we sure are pretty pompous of ourselves, aren’t we?

Now, I’m not saying we need to run willy nilly over our resources. But what I am saying is to recognize things like this for what they really are – simple PR stunts to make someone look and feel good about themselves, no matter the cost.

And while we are talking about saving the teams money (one of NASCAR’s favorite projects because they believe the teams are not bright enough to do it themselves), here is a good one.

In no other sport do the teams that did not make the playoffs get to keep on playing. If we HAVE to have this ridiculous Chase system, end the season after the 26th race. The top 12 get to keep on racing, TRUE racing, and we don’t have to worry about a “non-chaser” altering the events and eventual outcome. To compensate for this, sponsorship contracts would have “performance clauses” in them. It would cost X amount of dollars to sponsor a race team and X more if that team makes the playoffs and you want to continue your sponsorship.

As for the rest of the teams vying for the stupid Top-35 rule… well, you better be in by the 26th race! Make the racing during the year even more about racing than cruising around getting points. As for the Chase part, with only the top 12 running, cut the remaining races in HALF by laps or length. Make it more of a shootout. Don’t worry about the ratings; people already flip back and forth to the NFL games anyway. NASCAR will never beat the NFL in ratings, that has been proven. Yes, it does beat golf – as they have so aptly pointed out a time or two this year – but so does infomercials.

Think about how much money a team would save and be able to invest in next year in their effort to improve if they only ran 26 races. And you know what, it would be the little teams that need to save that would actually be reaping the benefits. If you can run with the big boys next year, you naturally will get bigger dollars for your effort.

It probably all makes too much sense to really work, though!

Stay off the wall (and off the grass at RFR),

Jeff Meyer

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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