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NASCAR is right up there with football and baseball when it comes to sports Americans love.

Professional stock car racing is fast, thrilling, and a serious moneymaker. In 2012, NASCAR earned $3 billion in sponsorship money, more than double that of the NFL.

Breakneck speed and passionate fans are the cornerstone of this wildly popular sport.


But! Here's an idea: What if those loud, gas-guzzling stock cars were replaced with electric cars?

Take it easy, Tony Stewart. It's just an idea.

Think I'm nutty for even suggesting it? Don't blame me. It's all Bill Nye's idea. In a January 2016 op-ed for Aeon, the TV science guy and beloved bow-tie wearer proposed that NASCAR cars make the switch from gas to electric engines.

Nye, a Southerner and lifelong stock car enthusiast, says he is disappointed by the lack of innovation in racing and suggests that, instead of clinging to outdated modes of technology, NASCAR should embrace the future and make the transition to electric cars.

Bill Nye rocking his traditional bow tie and hand gestures. Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images.

"Despite the excitement, NASCAR kinda breaks my heart," Nye writes. "It’s a celebration of old tech." He wishes NASCAR was more like NASA, where the focus is always on the future and innovation.

"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," he says. He even has a plan, a vision, for what NASCAR would look like with electric cars:

"It’s easy for me to imagine an electric race car that completely outperforms a gas-powered competitor. Instead of refueling a gas tank, the electric race car pit crew would change battery packs. The car would be designed to roll up a ramp. The battery pack would be disconnected and dropped out. Moments later, a fresh battery pack would be lifted into place, and off our electric racer would go with time in the pit comparable to what it takes to refuel and service a conventional gas-powered race car."

While this image sounds idealized, the real question is whether it's even feasible. Can electric cars even compete with their gas-powered counterparts?

Yes. Yes, they can.

Electric vehicles are already on track to compete with NASCAR.

NASCAR vehicles are built for speed. They have large, finely tuned engines that can take in huge amounts of air. They run without mufflers and catalytic converters so nothing slows down the exhaust. All the other systems on the car are built to operate at high speeds and temperatures.

All of these factors, along with a skilled driver, allow NASCAR vehicles to get anywhere from 800 to 940 horsepower and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 2.9 seconds.


Jeff Gordon races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 in November 2015. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images.

As Nye points out, the Tesla Model S, a luxury electric car, is capable of producing 530 horsepower and goes from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds.

It's not built to perform like a race car and weighs in about 1,000 pounds heavier than most stock cars, but initial tests make it clear that the Model S and other electric vehicles have potential for racing success.

The Tesla Model S chillin' like a villain in a showroom. Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.

While electric vehicles can compete with gas-powered vehicles, making the transition across NASCAR wouldn't be easy or affordable.

The speed and power required by the average NASCAR race car does not come cheap. One team, Joe Gibbs Racing, builds engines that cost around $80,000 a piece. One of those engines won't even get you through the nine-month NASCAR season. Not even close. Due to high speeds and punishing conditions, it only takes one or two races before serious engine maintenance or replacement is required.


Crew members for Jimmie Johnson work after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.

Electric vehicles use motors powered by large batteries instead of fuel. While a fuel engine only lasts a couple of races, that's still better than the battery life of electric cars, which would need to have new battery packs installed during races because their range is 270 miles under traditional conditions.

While prices have fallen sharply since 2007, the cost of electric vehicle batteries is still between $300 and $450 per kilowatt hour. To be on par with gas-powered vehicles, researchers say that price would need to fall to around $150 per kWh, a milestone that's expected to be more than five years away.

For their part, NASCAR has taken a few major steps to offset the hefty emissions of their current cars. The 43 cars in the 2015 Daytona 500 used an estimated 5,375 gallons of gas. However, the cars use a biofuel blend made from corn that cuts emissions by 20%; since 2009, NASCAR has planted 370,000 trees, enough to offset their national series racing carbon emissions for the next 40 years.

Representatives from NASCAR and conservation organizations plant a tree for NASCAR's Tree-Planting Program to Capture Carbon Emissions at Michigan International Speedway. Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR.

Nye also predicts the influence NASCAR's adoption of electric cars would have on the consumer market and the economy.

While still years away from feasibility, a transition like this could give alternative vehicles and the sport of NASCAR racing a serious boost.

Imagine watching dozens of souped-up electric cars race around the track. Nye believes it would inspire fans to seriously consider electric cars for their own needs.

"The market for electric cars would go crazy. Manufacturers could not produce them fast enough," Nye estimates. "We could convert our transportation system to all-electric in less time than it took to go from horse-drawn to horseless carriage, 20 years maybe."

Though Nye is a font of optimism, he may have a point. Race fans are notoriously loyal and passionate. One market research firm reported 40% of fans are willing to switch brands to buy NASCAR-branded or sponsored products. This transition could be the boost EVs need.

NASCAR stopped releasing attendance data in 2012, but many signs point to declining numbers. And while it is still popular, TV ratings for televised races have dipped as well. Perhaps an innovative transition like this would inspire fans old and new to give the sport another look.

Fans watch the NASCAR Xfinity Series Hisense 200. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

Critics will say Nye's plan for an EV NASCAR will never work. But imagine for a moment if it does.

Consider the innovation an idea like this begets, the emissions it could eliminate, the good habits it may inspire. Ambitious? Yes. Feasible? Maybe. Either way, the avenues for opportunity are enough to get anyone's motor running.

Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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