America’s number one spectator sport is not played on grass in a well ventilated stadium. Instead, it is a contest of thirty or forty powerful engines pushed to their maximum for hours at incredibly high temperatures in packed speedways with millions of fans sitting virtually on top of the action on the track.
Before and during the races, pit crews either work feverishly in small enclosed garages repairing engines or right on the track servicing the cars as they compete. In the area around the speedways and race tracks, residential neighborhoods abound.
Amazingly, all of these people are exposed to massive amounts of exhaust fumes generated by the burning of leaded gasoline. This is because NASCAR is exempt from complying with the Clean Air Act of 1970 which required a switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline for automobiles.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) realizes the health threat posed by the burning of leaded gasoline, NASCAR still uses it without fear of any penalty being imposed.
Environmentalists are frustrated by the fact that an industry with the vast resources and technological know-how of NASCAR has been permitted to drag its feet for so long on such an important issue involving public health. Many believe that the very size of the industry is what allows NASCAR to get away with making any serious effort to find a way to convert to unleaded gasoline while continuing to take full advantage of its exemption from federal clean-air standards.