Is it time we move our loud and fast NASCAR cars from gasoline-chugging motors to more eco-friendly electric motors? Beloved scientist Bill Nye says yes. In a recent editorial for Aeon, Nye argued that doing so could change the world forever.
Nye said that he respects and understands the excitement around NASCAR but also finds the races, at least during his own visits to the track, “depressing.” “Here I am trying to envision the smart, efficient transportation technology of tomorrow, and there is NASCAR doing the opposite – celebrating a very old transportation technology of yesterday,” Nye argues.
He has a point – we’re all sitting around cheering for cars that are running on gasoline when companies like Tesla are pushing the boundaries of what we can do with cars if we change fuel sources.
“[NASCAR] uses gasoline-burning instead of electron-flowing,” Nye added. “I wish NASCAR were more like NASA. I wish NASCAR were more about the future instead of the past. I wish NASCAR set up Grand Challenges to inspire companies and individuals to create novel automotive technologies in the way NASA does to create novel space technologies.” Nye ponders what Tesla could do so in just three years if it was tasked with creating new NASCAR vehicles.
Imagine what that could do for race car technology and, as a result, for the technology that we all end up using in the roads. We could also use NASCAR as a propulsion mechanism for taking new auto tech mainstream, instead of allowing NASCAR to use old gasoline engines. “The market for electric cars would go crazy,” Nye said. “Manufacturers could not produce them fast enough.”
It’s a point of view I’ve never thought of before. Given the popularity of NASCAR in the U.S., though, Nye has an opinion we should all consider.