By: Jay Pennell
For most NASCAR teams, the sponsors on the side of the car determine the type of insurance used, sandwiches eaten or beverages consumed. However, for Team Penske and 2012 Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, those sponsor relations also help make the race shop a more environmentally friendly place.
Through partnerships with companies such as Wurth, SKF, Alliance Truck Parts and Safety-Kleen, the race to green initiative is alive and well within Team Penske and Brad Keselowski Racing.
While Wurth is on Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford Fusion for three Sprint Cup Series races, the team uses the company’s line of eco-friendly products throughout the race shop.
The team uses Wurth Eco Super Spray All primarily during the teardown process after each weekend’s race. The product is biodegradable, phosphate free and does not contain any harmful ingredients. The Wurth Eco Lustre Metal Polish is used on the Team Penske transporters and motor coach. In addition, Team Penske has been able to reduce the overall amount of spray cans used throughout the race shop by utilizing Wurth’s REFILLOmat. The station refills the team’s spray cans and allows them to cut down on the overall number of cans used.
For the Richmond race weekend – which culminates the NASCAR Race to Green week – each of the Team Penske cars will run special green SKF logos. A Team Penske partner since the 2012 season, SKF is leading the way in going green away from the racetrack.
At the company headquarters, SKF underwent an 18-month, $23 million redevelopment project. SKF invested over $1 million in energy-efficient systems and materials, becoming the first commercial business in Pennsylvania to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum Level LEED Certification for Commercial Interiors. As part of the redevelopment project SKF also received a Pennsylvania Solar Energy Program grant for a $2 million rooftop solar panel construction project.
After the headquarters redevelopment, all new SKF factories in the U.S. are LEED certified. Factories in Birmingham, Alabama and Cleveland, Ohio have achieved gold status LEED certification.
On top of that, six of SKF’s most energy intensive facilities in the U.S have received ISO 50001 certification, a voluntary International Standard to manage and improve energy performance.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility is something that truly flows throughout the company, from the materials used in the company headquarters, to heating and cooling systems, to water efficient fixtures, to a no-smoking policy.
The green SKF logos are not the only green initiative Keselowski and Team Penske will be taking part in during the Richmond Race to Green weekend.
Keselowski is scheduled to ride around Richmond International Raceway with 40 11th-grade STEM students in a Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 CNG bus, powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). The CNG creates up to 13 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to its diesel counterpart. The bus is powered by four CNG fuel tanks, the equivalent of a 60-gallon diesel fuel tank. By using domestic CNG, the eco-friendly bus also reduces the dependence on foreign oil.
The idea of going green does not end at the Penske shop and in the Sprint Cup Series, however. Just up the road at Brad Keselowski Racing sits a water filtration system unlike any other in NASCAR.
With Keselowski’s Truck Series team located adjacent to the Statesville (N.C.) Regional Airport, the shop has no city waste water lines. All of the runoff water collected from the truck bays and wash bays were funneled from catch basins into a 4,000-gallon holding tank behind the shop. Each month, Safety-Kleen came to the shop to pump out the holding tank, something that became costly for the team over time.
Looking for a better way to handle the waste water and save some money at the same time, Keselowski worked with Safety-Kleen and Separation Dynamics to introduce an intricate filtration system that is making a serious impact throughout the shop.
Each weekend when the haulers return from the track, each of the two race trucks are power washed to remove dirt, debris, oil and anything else collected over the course of a race weekend. Even the haulers themselves are washed from their travels from the shop, to the track and back again.
All of that water is funneled down into drains in the floor, which send the dirty water into catch basins. That water is then sent to the 4,000-gallon holding tank. A sump pump in the holding tank sends the water through a pipe that takes the water through the first heavy filter to remove the heavy solids and large debris. After passing through the initial filter, the water is sent into a 500-gallon holding tank. The water in the holding tank is still relatively dirty, with oil and grease creating a dark color.
From the holding tank, the water is sent through three more powerful filters and back into another 500-gallon holding tank. The water in this second 500-gallon holding tank is much cleaner than the dark-colored water in the first, but it is not finished with the filtration system just yet.
When water is used by employees in the shop, the water is pumped from the second 500-gallon holding tank and sent through a series of carbon fiber tanks and finally it passes through a tank with UV lights, which kills any remaining bacteria.
After passing through the filtration system, the water is once again used to wash the trucks and haulers after returning from the track, and the process begins once again. The water is also used by the body shop to power wash the trucks before being painted. The filtration system is key for the body shop because the water has to have a certain level of cleanliness before the paint is applied.
By recycling and heavily filtering water within the shop, BKR is saving water and money at the same time. Safety-Kleen still has to come to pump the heavy solids and debris, as well as provide the filters, which are changed every month. However, the 4,000-gallon holding tank no longer has to be pumped out.
Through this process of extensive filtration, all but some soaps are removed from the water. In fact, the filtered water that comes out of the system is only a handful of steps away from being potable water.
While the system was expensive to initially install, it was an investment Keselowski made for the long term and shows he is committed not only to staying in the sport for a while, but doing so in a responsible manner.
That sense of responsibility is something Team Penske and Brad Keselowski take very seriously, from the sponsors on the side of the car, to the products used each week in the shop.