KANSAS CITY, Kan. ? While the rest of the world officially celebrates Earth Day on Monday, NASCAR prefers to operate as if every day is Earth Day. This month just happens to be particularly green.
Toyota drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. joined local youth to plant trees and spread recycled rubber mulch on Friday just outside the gates of this past weekend's NASCAR venue, Kansas Speedway.
"This is the first time I've autographed a shovel,'' Bowyer joked of the checkered flag painted tools.
Greg Biffle debuted a commercial recognizing NASCAR's Race to Green initiative during Sunday's NASCAR on FOX race broadcast. The Kansas Speedway finish line was painted in green and white -- a nod to the effort.
And Earth Day Monday morning at a Kansas City-area state park, The NASCAR Foundation hosted UPS and Sprint employees along with a large group of Missouri children to restore and refresh a park and bike trail. The 90 trees they plant will offset the carbon emissions of Sunday's STP 400 race.
These high-profile events are just the latest efforts when it comes to NASCAR's comprehensive Green Initiative, widely considered the most ambitious and successful among professional sports leagues.
Beyond the Sunoco Green E15 ethanol-infused fuel, the largest recycling program in sports and track initiatives such as Pocono Raceway's solar farm, NASCAR is celebrating Earth Day all month in a big way.
"You know we take care of each other; we do so much with charitable work, but the ground itself is overlooked and this is a neat opportunity to take care of both,'' said Bowyer. "I'm proud to be in a sport that does so much for charity and to take care of the earth.''
This month, NASCAR's Clean Air Tree Planting Program delivered by UPS will plant enough trees to offset the carbon emissions produced by all three NASCAR national series this season.
Sponsors such as UPS, Sprint, 3M, Ford, Toyota and Freightliner, plus ongoing support from The NASCAR Foundation, have made substantial commitments to the tree platform.
UPS, for example is partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 8,000 trees -- a minimum of 90 in each racing market. Ford is planting trees based on the number of laps led by Ford drivers this month -- another 45 just from Sunday. Toyota is planting trees based on the number of competition laps. And 3M is similarly donating trees for every lap of Sprint Cup and Nationwide competition -- a total of 2,350 laps.
NASCAR's Race to Green also asks the sports loyal fan base to participate by donating trees -- www.NASCAR.com/green -- that will be planted in areas decimated by natural disasters.
For example, NASCAR, Pocono Raceway and UPS participated in a tree-planting event at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where UPS is donating 35,000 trees to this one site.
Biffle, whose No. 16 Ford is sponsored by 3M, says being environmentally aware has always been a part of his life and these latest initiatives -- part of the five-year old NASCAR Green program -- make him proud to be a competitor.
He takes great pride in the way he runs his 1,000-acre ranch in North Carolina. Construction work is done with "blow-down" timber -- trees that have naturally fallen from wind or weather. He pays for in-home recycling pick-up even though he could just get regular trash pick-up for free.
"Ever since I can remember, I've been earth-conscious,'' Biffle said. "I grew up in the Northwest and learned at a young age to catch and release fish, don't cut trees down if you don't have to and I've been that way.
"And we are a perfect candidate for a sport because we use a lot of consumable goods, meaning you go to a baseball game or football game, and there's not sheet metal, gas and tires,'' he explained. "We have a great opportunity to recycle and Jack (Roush) is very big on recycling. We have a guy on staff where that's his whole job to oversee that program.
"Jack likes to brag that we recycle 97 percent of every race car. The steel, the mechanical parts, all of it and sell the parts that can be used over again to other divisions (in racing).
"It's neat that (NASCAR Chairman) Brian France had that vision because we were faced with an opportunity that was huge -- being green, being environmentally friendly and being able to get that message to fans.
"It's a huge deal and a lot of people take pride in it."
See the graphic below for more information on NASCAR Green initiatives:
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