Infineon Raceway, located in the scenic Sonoma Valley, has always been known for the roar of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, or the ground-pounding excitement of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

The facility first-opened in 1968, and for more than 40 years, it has been providing the best in motor-sports entertainment for Northern California race fans, and beyond.

But while the raceway certainly is best known for motor-racing, it is taking strides in the world of sustainability. Infineon Raceway has long had comprehensive recycling and water-conservation programs. In fact, the raceway has recycled more than 141 tons of materials since 2004 and was even recognized by the State of California Department, Division of Recycling, for its efforts. It also received a green business award from Sonoma County.

The raceway has also been home to more than 3,000 sheep since 2008, which help maintain the grasses and fire lanes around the facility. Moreover, the raceway works with Safety-Kleen to recycle used oil products at its NASCAR and NHRA events. Safety-Kleen refines more than 200,000 gallons of used motor oil each year from racing events and a total of 200,000,000 gallons of used motor oil from customers throughout North America.

Infineon Raceway took another major step forward in its sustainability efforts recently with its announcement of a partnership with Panasonic Corporation of North America.

The centerpiece of the Panasonic collaboration will be a major solar-electric-power-generating installation at the raceway with a capacity of more than 350 kilowatts, along with a new dual-sided, solar-powered LED display board along Highway 37.

Panasonic will assume a charter sponsor role in the raceway’s new green performance program in an agreement that runs through 2015.  That initiative will significantly enhance the facility’s existing sustainable practices in its daily business operations, while at the same time communicating a clear message to the raceway’s customer base about the performance benefits of green transportation technologies.

A total of 1,652 of Panasonic’s Sanyo solar panels will be installed at the raceway.  Locations include: Turn 10 Sound Wall, Main Grandstand, Jim Russell Racing Drivers School Tech Center, Raceway Café and Infineon Raceway’s main offices. The solar power produced by the new system will provide for 41-percent of the raceway’s overall energy usage.

Much of the installation will be visible by the raceway’s patrons at its major events and will serve as a continuing reminder about sustainability. The installation is expected to be completed by April.

The dual-sided, solar powered LED board created by Panasonic will replace the current board, which sits on Highway 37 outside the raceway. The new LED board will require far less power to operate, making it extremely energy-efficient.

“Infineon Raceway is uniquely positioned to take the message of sustainability to the horsepower-and-performance crowd who have not necessarily been the early adopters in this movement,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. “This partnership with Panasonic is the first major building block in this new initiative and we’re delighted to welcome them as a founding partner.”

Infineon Raceway is also taking this effort to the racetrack itself, hosting the first-ever electric motorcycle race on American soil in 2010 with the TTXGP U.S. Championships. The series will return in May as part of the raceway’s West Coast Moto Jam event. Infineon Raceway was also one of the first circuits in the country to employ a hybrid vehicle (Toyota Camry) as the pace car for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Tenants at the raceway’s industrial park have also embarked on sustainability with low-carbon race technologies.

Looking toward expansion, Page said the goal is to include low-carbon/low emission racing, like the TTXGP, as support features at each of their major events.  The raceway is also developing plans for a series of green performance summits, ultimately establishing the Sonoma facility as the hub for new low emission race technologies. 

“The first step has been to put our own house in order and this solar alliance with Panasonic marks a significant new step in our efforts to operate this business in a sustainable fashion,” Page said.  “Moving forward, our visibility in the performance automotive industry gives us a terrific platform to carry the message to a broader audience of racing enthusiasts.”

Race fans will continue to see the great forms of motor racing they have come to expect for more than 40 years at Infineon Raceway. Whether it’s NASCAR, NHRA drag racing, the IZOD IndyCar Series or motorcycles, there will be something for everyone.

But the hope is race fans, and the community, will come to know Infineon Raceway as a sustainable member of the North Bay, with aspirations of becoming the cleanest and greenest motor-racing facility in the country. The recent announcement with Panasonic was a major step forward in that quest, but there is still so much more to be done. The ride has only just begun.