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Phoenix International Raceway waves the green flag on sustainability

Brennan Poole, driver of the No. 48 DC Solar Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing, Jeff Carpool, DC Solar President and CEO and Bryan R. Sperber, Phoenix International Raceway President, announce a partnership between DC Solar and Phoenix International Raceway that begins in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Raceway)

AVONDALE – Jeff Carpoff, a racing fan and the owner of DC Solar, was at the Good Sam 500 NASCAR race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway last spring, and couldn’t help wondering if his company might be able to play a role in reducing the pollution the event was generating.

“I noticed that there was a lot of diesel burning around this place,” Carpoff said in an interview at PIR. “We made it a personal mission to get involved.”

Carpoff knew there was a place for his products in NASCAR. He had seen track after track with hundreds of light towers, and with diesel-fueled generators running 24 hours a day on race weekend.

So Carpoff’s DC Solar and PIR partnered to promote clean energy usage at the track.

Unlike solar companies that focus on selling or leasing rooftop solar panels, DC Solar produces products designed to replace products that burn fossil fuels.

“Their product line which leverages sustainability and their position in the solar market is incredibly important for us here in the Valley,” said Bryan Sperber, president of Phoenix International Raceway.

DC Solar’s product lines include solar generators, solar light towers and personal-device charging stations.

Phoenix Raceway is not the first track with which DC Solar has partnered. The company also has partnerships with Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. The partnership with Phoenix Raceway has led to DC Solar becoming the title sponsor of the spring Xfinity race next year.

The company also sponsors the DC Solar No. 48 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series, driven by Brennan Poole.

The DC Solar team uses unique equipment on pit road. It is the only team that has a completely solar cooldown unit, which cools the race car’s engine between qualifying session. The units are usually powered by gasoline generators, but Carpoff hit on the idea to build a solar unit after he and Poole had a hard time hearing each other on pit road. They unveiled the unit at Las Vegas in March.

Poole and Carpoff hope that soon all the teams can have one of the solar-powered units.

Sustainability and the environment as well as being a part of the DC Solar family is important to Poole.

“I think it is a time when taking care of the environment is really important to all of us,” said Poole. “To see the steps and everything they’ve done to get involved to help the sport become greener and work with all these tracks is really awesome.”

NASCAR is continuing its efforts to cut emissions as part of its NASCAR Green campaign. NASCAR officials announced that by the end of the 2016 season, its drivers will have driven 10 million miles using American Ethanol E15, roughly equivalent to 400 trips around the world.

NASCAR made the switch in 2011 from regular gasoline to ethanol in an effort to cut emissions. Richard Childress, owner of the Richard Childress Racing team, estimates that using ethanol has cut emissions by up to 20 percent.

“The fuel runs so much cleaner, cooler and makes more horsepower,” said Childress, whose company also owns the engine-building outfit, Earnhardt-Childress Racing.

NASCAR is trying to lead the way in showing the public that ethanol is a reliable option for their consumer cars.

“We’ve run 10 million competitive miles, grueling miles, without a single failure and that just shows what you can do with E15 in you personal car,” Childress said.

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