You can’t avoid the avalanche (no pun intended) of information about global warming – it’s everywhere. And without getting into the politics or science behind it, one thing is clear, the business community is responding to the discussion.
Racing isn’t particularly thought of as green, in spite of the occasional tip of the cap in that direction with fuels. LeMans has encouraged the use of newer technologies for turbo diesel engines resulting in significant investment from Audi. The IRL has moved to 100% ethanol. A1GP has moved to an ethanol blend and expressed an intent to utilize further green friendly technologies, and F1 is discussing rules for the 2011 season that could see these technologies put to test in the “highest form of motor racing.”
While NASCAR remains on the other end of the scale, with old technologies and leaded fuel, Peter DeLorenzo has announced the development of a hydrogen-fueled series. That seems like a big bet as; there isn’t much consensus as to which technology will be most broadly deployed long-term. A few years back, the AMA employed unleaded fuel, moving in the right direction.
Motorcycling will be interesting to watch because bikes are generally thought of as getting good mileage and, therefore, greener than cars. But a dirty little secret is that bikes have been dirty relative to cars – mostly due to the lack of catalytic converters. So where do they go from here?
Certainly in the near term, hybrids look to be a consumer friendly technology and will likely find their way in with the “first movers” of racing. And it’s clear the auto manufacturers will want to boost their green credentials as politicians put increasing pressure them to clean up their act. If I were a betting man, that’s where I’d put my money…
But perhaps the biggest sea change will come from sponsors, who will begin to associate themselves with properties that promote green living. What bank, insurance company or soda company wouldn’t? In discussions with major sponsors over the past year or so, the number of requests to see the environmental policy of the racing series represented has skyrocketed. In the future, it will be more difficult to be associated with the laggards in environmental change because there is no downside to being seen as being more environmentally friendly.
SO, the conclusions for rights holders are:
• Its going to happen, so get with the program. Your rulebook is your friend;
• The green platform you create will define your niche and serve as a competitive advantage over the laggards;
• Sponsors will demand it going forward, so the laggards (even NASCAR at some point) will be under pressure to show progress;
• Its not just about engine technology and fuel;
• The biggest opportunity is utilizing your platform to change consumer attitudes and behavior towards green technology;
• Start…now. If you don’t have a policy, start there. If you do, keep moving;
• And you can hire Hardcard to help. We’re up to speed in this area.