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Fall 2017
Environmental Report


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Darlington Raceway
Turn 4 at Darlington Raceway was painted green designating that Santee Cooper-produced Green Power was the renewable electricity consumed at the track “Too Tough to Tame” during this year’s Labor Day weekend.

Racing Toward a Greener Southern 500

As the green flag was waved furiously, drivers took their positions, engines revved and the pace car conceded its guidance. The crowd of 60,000 was on its feet, electric with excitement and cheers. It was Labor Day weekend and the Bojangles’ Southern 500 – complete with all the pomp and circumstance of a hallowed NASCAR race – had officially begun.

While the thrill of the race was in full force on the track and in the stands, the excitement didn’t stop there. Behind the scenes Darlington Raceway had once again made the environment a priority. For nearly a half-dozen years, the Southern 500 has “gone green” with Green Power. Renewable energy produced by Santee Cooper and distributed to the raceway by Pee Dee Electric Cooperative covered the track’s power requirements. The Saturday race, the SportClips 200, was also part of the green goings-on.

Austin Dillon (left) and pole sitter Kevin Harvick get back in the running following a pitstop.

The track consumes about 1,200 megawatt hours of power during the Labor Day weekend. Santee Cooper generates 28 megawatts of Green Power primarily from six landfills where methane gas from decaying garbage provides the fuel for generators. Other sources include solar and wind.

An important aspect of Santee Cooper’s Green Power is that it is Green-e Energy certified. That means it meets the environmental and consumer-protection standards established by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions, based in San Francisco.

Scenes from the infield during the Bojangles’ Southern 500.

“We were proud to say that our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend was 100 percent powered by green energy, thanks to Pee Dee Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper,” said track President Kerry Tharp. “Darlington Raceway takes great pride in being a facility that is powered by renewable energy. We appreciate our strong relationship with our electric providers and I think we put on a great race weekend for our fans.”

And fans agree. Joe Fleming, who journeyed from Lehigh Valley, Pa. with his son, Joey, said, “Going green is always good. This is an impressive thing to do.”

“I feel like it’s an excellent thing to do,” said Kristin Sebolt, a fan from nearby Florence who was there to cheer on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last Darlington race. “I’m delighted to know that this is happening. I’m glad they’re doing it.”

Even the famed “Darlington stripe” got in on the festivities. Drivers earn their “stripe” when a race car scrapes a guard rail or barrier on an outside turn.

“We painted a green stripe along the wall at turn four,” said Jeff Singletary, the Pee Dee Electric Cooperative’s vice president of marketing. “That stripe represented the Green Power used throughout the weekend by NASCAR fans, crews and drivers. We’re always proud to partner with Santee Cooper and Darlington Raceway in bringing this Green Power event to the area. We’re big supporters of clean, renewable energy and were extremely pleased to host this event once again.”

There are other ways NASCAR races have evolved to be more environmentally friendly in the 21st century. For example, all of the used motor oil and gear oil discarded by NASCAR teams is recycled.

Clockwise from left: Richard Petty signs autographs, splish, splash they were taking a bath in the infield at Darlington Raceway, and fans get a front row seat to all the race action.

NASCAR is also concerned about the kind of gasoline used in the race cars. It is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, a super-high octane fuel specifically refined for high horsepower engines. Made from corn, ethanol has provided our nation’s farmers with another market for their crop. E15, as it’s called, results in lower emissions, which benefits the environment. The vast majority of gasoline sold today contains 10 percent ethanol.

“This has got to be so good for the environment,” said Jenna Winfield from Sumter. “I think it’s a great thing and I hope they continue doing it.”

Matt Kenseth’s pit crew stands ready to service his Ford.
Chris Buescher (left) in his Chevrolet and Aric Almirola, sporting No. 43 made famous by the legendary Richard Petty, pass by the start-finish line. Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag.