Nascar Goes Green

In 1997 two Booth students met as LEAD facilitators, they discussed their passion for sports and went their separate ways. 10 years after graduating from Booth, Eric Nyquist, MBA ‘98, JD ‘98, and Mike Lynch, MBA ‘98, reunited in Daytona Beach, Florida, at NASCAR to launch the largest sustainability program in sports - NASCAR Green.

A sports career was as niche at Booth then as it is now, and Mike, a tenured professor in the engineering department at Purdue prior to joining Booth, opted for the conventional MBA career by working at BCG after graduation. However, in 2008, when NASCAR needed a scientist and a business strategist, Mike fit the bill perfectly. NASCAR was not designing Green for corporate social responsibility but to be a revenue generating business unit that collaborated with sponsors from the get-go.

This sponsor-focused approach is a hallmark of the Green program which has led to a recent uptick in sponsorship for an otherwise declining sport. Highlights of the Green sponsorship include plastic bottle and aluminum can recycling with the Coca-Cola Company, rubber tire recycling with Goodyear, and a biofuel partnership with Sunoco on its E15 ethanol race fuel.

Beyond it’s business impact, NASCAR Green is a powerful social initiative and has begun to nudge the auto-racing zeitgeist in a more environmentally friendly direction. According to a NASCAR poll, 75 percent of avid NASCAR fans are aware of NASCAR Green and recent statistics reveal that four-fifths of fans agree that global warming is anthropogenic, and the majority believe that they individually have a responsibility to support the environment by adjusting their behavior. With a fan base of a 100 million viewers, the impact of this program quickly begins to add up.

So what’s next for NASCAR Green? The growing recognition for sustainability among fans means that there is a market opportunity to promote products like LEDs, hybrid and electric vehicles, and solar. Expect to see an increase in sustainability-focused consumer product sponsorships.

To learn more about NASCAR’s environmental sustainability programs and how corporations can make a social impact, attend the SEI Social Impact Leadership series on October 20 when Eric Nyquist ‘98 and Mike Lynch ‘98 will be presenting on Driving Green Innovation at Nascar. The talk begins at 6 p.m. and will be held at Gleacher Center, room 100. RSVP to attend at NASCARGreen.EventBrite.com.