Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Sustaining the Race: A Review of Literature Pertaining to the Environmental Sustainability of Motorsport

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Sustaining the Race: A Review of Literature Pertaining to the Environmental Sustainability of Motorsport

Article excerpt

Executive summary

This paper aims to explore motorsport from the viewpoint of environmental sustainability. This is important because of the growing concerns around the globe of the impact of human activity on the environment. The introduction to the paper outlines the rationale for adopting a sustainability analysis to the management and marketing of motorsport. The sections that follow offer definitions of the respective concepts of motorsport and sustainability.

The section on sustainability looks at the origins of the modern environmental movement, from which the concept of sustainability emerged, and then discusses the associated concepts of the 'triple bottom line' and 'natural capital' in order to offer alternatives to more conventional methods of understanding motorsport and the resources it requires.

The importance of sustainability in the 21st century and the current situation with regard to achievement of sustainability are considered, and the latest United Nations environmental assessment is drawn upon to place sport, and specifically motorsport, in a global environmental context.

Literature pertaining to sustainability and sport is reviewed and an analysis of the role of material consumption practices is offered. The paper then evaluates some attempts within motorsport to become more sustainable. The paper concludes that further research into sustainable management and marketing practices for motorsport is warranted.


Motorsport is an important part of the social and commercial fabric of industrialised societies. Around the world, it occupies an important place in popular and sporting culture. From the Silverstone, Nurburgring and Monaco Formula One racetracks in Europe to Canada's Circuit Gilles-Villenueve in North America to Brazil's Interlagos in South America to the Shanghai International Circuit in China and the desert plains of Africa for the Paris-Dakar Rally to the long straights of Australia's Mount Panorama, Bathurst and Phillip Island, in its various forms motorsport is of both historic and global significance.

As a sport it is also very diverse: the term 'motorsport' encompasses a range of major categories of racing. For four-wheeled vehicles alone there is a multitude of forms: Formula One, Indy Car, Stock Car, Rally, Drag Racing, Go-Karts, Dune Buggies and trucks are just some. Motorbikes race in several varieties, including Superbikes, Motocross, Quad Bikes and the derivative Snocross competitions. While motorsport is principally a land-based activity, it also extends to onshore and offshore speedboat racing. Many categories of motorsport are further divided into sub-categories--on-road or track racing and off-road racing. Within each major category, motorsport is further divided into a range of competitions according to body type, engine capacity and vehicle manufacturer, each with their own idiosyncrasies and technical requirements.

All varieties of motorsport, however, have two key commonalities. The first is that the participants place great value on competitiveness--the winning of competitions and how this is achieved. As a result, the recording, quantification and measurement of progress towards winning is a typical characteristic; and speed, engine size, engine power and aerodynamic efficiency are widely discussed by participants, commentators and fans. The second commonality is that all strands of motorsport share a dependence on the physical resources of planet Earth, and for most, a heavy reliance on crude oil as an energy source for propulsion.

In recent years, the emergence of the environment generally, and the phenomenon of anthropogenic climate change in particular, as global social, political and economic issues is prompting a re-examination of many forms of human activity. How we use energy, and the sources from which we derive it, is now widely debated in the spheres of government, commerce and among citizens. …

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