Daniel Susco
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Consider the Following: Bill Nye the Science Guy Wishes NASCAR Would Go Electric

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Remember Bill Nye the Science Guy? If not, this will probably jog your memory:

If the answer is still no, Bill Nye is a former mechanical engineer who has since become a science educator, writer, and TV presenter, with most people knowing him from his 90s TV show in which, as that intro theme song suggests, he talks about science. However, what has Bill Nye been up to since the end of the show? Well, a lot of things (he’s a very busy guy), but partly, he’s been trying to convince people to reverse climate change.

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And so, on a slightly related note, since his childhood, Bill Nye said that he has become dissatisfied with NASCAR. In an article published on Aeon, Nye wrote, “Despite the excitement, NASCAR kinda breaks my heart. It’s a celebration of old tech.” The old tech he is referring to is a gas-powered engine, which in NASCAR vehicles only gets somewhere in the vicinity of 3 mpg. Instead, he suggested, what if NASCAR were to switch its cars to electric power?

MiEV Evolution III

Mitsubishi’s MiEV Evolution III, an all-electric racecar

For one thing, Nye wrote, electric car technology would certainly get a boost: “Just think what an electric carmaker, such as Tesla, could produce given, say, three years [of development for racing].” For another, electric cars would soon become very popular: “And most significant from my point of view,” he wrote, “everyone in the crowd, every race fan, would want an electric car! The market for electric cars would go crazy. Manufacturers could not produce them fast enough.”

Bottom line, Nye said, NASCAR bothers him because it seems to be stuck in the past and discourages innovation, citing the case of the STP-Paxton Turbocar, a turbine-engine racecar that might have challenged gas-powered cars, but was instead immediately made unusable by rule changes.

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Well, the Science Guy definitely has historical precedent on his side on one point: if racing were done with electric cars, everyone would want one. Ford got its beginning, as pointed out by Henry Ford’s great-grandson, through racing. He said: “Not only is our racing tradition older than our company, but there might not even have been a Ford Motor Company without racing. My grandfather needed to get the world’s attention–and he knew how. Henry Ford built a race car.”

Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang

And for that matter, how do you think the name “Shelby” became famous?

Other brands were also inextricably tied to racing: Chevrolet was started by a racecar driver and is famous for the small-block V8 it introduced in the 50s, and Mazda’s rotary engine may never have come to light (or resurface again recently) if not for Mazda taking fourth place with two modified Cosmo 110S cars at the grueling 84-hour “Marathon de la Route.”

Mazda 1967 (1968?) Cosmo

Of course, it didn’t hurt that they looked good
Image: contri

And, with large cities around the world such as Beijing, Milan, and Delhi being smothered in smog, doesn’t it seem like the adoption of electric vehicles is kind of what we (or at least those of us who live in cities) could really use right now? Even though gasoline emissions aren’t the principal polluters in these places, they still constitute a large chunk of harmful particle and gas emissions, one that is chosen entirely by the consumers, making it possibly the easiest factor to change.

News Sources: Aeon, RoadandTrack.com, Ford, Chevrolet, Mazda

  • Daniel SuscoEditor

    Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.