Sustainability in motorsport (2009)

Dr. Gregory Dingle explored sustainability and environmental impact motorsport. Given the significant resource demands of manufacturing, using and maintaining motorsports vehicles, the motorsport industry is tied to broader patterns of resource consumption that are leading to environmental degradation globally.


The success of motorsport in attracting public interest is inadvertently encouraging their fans to engage in patterns of consumption. In this sense, consumption of natural resources is amplified as motorsports spectators are encouraged to buy and drive cars, modify them to enhance their speed, purchase car-related products – especially carbon-intensive petrol derived from non-renewable resources like crude oil – and then travel to motorsports events in what are often carbon-intensive forms of transport such as cars and jet aircraft.

Dr. Dingle notes important steps forward in the motorsport sector:

- The FIA’s Institute for Motor Sport Safety (FIAIMSS) has proposed to the FIAIMSS General Assembly that its ‘remit’ be expanded to include environmental sustainability as well as safety (2009). This represents an official concession that motorsport is interested in being more sustainable and marketing this to fans. - The International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers argues that car manufacturers are developing “clean, fuel-efficient technologies that run on diverse fuels” such as biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen and compressed natural gas. - The decision to abandon leaded fuel for the Indy Pro Series (IPS) competition from 2008 (Sunoco, 2007; Schmidt, 2006) is a prominent example reported in popular literature of a move to more environmentally friendly practices. - Green Car Congress reported that a mechanical kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) under development for Formula 1 by three British companies had been awarded Engine Innovation of the Year at the 2007 Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards. - Rally Car racing is another area of motorsport where more environmentally friendly technologies are being developed. Green Car Congress reported that an Oaktec Honda Insight won its class at the 2006 Formula 1000 Rally Series using E85 ethanol-blend (i.e. 85% ethanol) fuel.

Motorsport is not the only sport moving in a more sustainable direction: other sports have taken similar steps in this direction.

"Given human transport needs, motorsport arguably represents a sphere for automotive design and innovation that may assist future attempts to resolve environmental problems."

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