You'd think that with the oil crisis depleting supplies and gushing prices skyward that conserving petroleum would be a national vocation. The plebeians in this country (me and you) try hard to preserve gas, cut unnecessary driving and treat this commodity with respect. So why is it professional race car drivers, as well as eco-crazies and government nannies, aren't focusing their attention on one of the most wasteful, mind-bogglingly stupid and extravagant practices of all time: Auto racing? Jillions upon jillions of gallons of precious fuel are being burnt up into the atmosphere practicing, racing and then decadently spinning victory donuts on the track to celebrate making a left turn for hours on end in gas-guzzling dimensions. Ovaling for 500, even 600 miles, in a sport more boring than televised golf proves absolutely nothing that cannot be accomplished with, say, a single tank of gas per racer. How about seeing who can go longer and faster on 10 gallons folks? Now that would be a responsible challenge.
Or why don't the self-adulating types like Jeffy Gordon voluntarily limit themselves to real races of skill by driving shortened tracks using only one hand on the wheel, or go it without brakes? Then we would witness true sportsmanship in motion.
In reality, the reasons long-distance races are popular are twofold: Fans can drink more beer, and there are more chances of gory car wrecks. After all, that is what fans are there to see, tragedy and death, just like in bull fights, wing walking, and pistol duels.
If professionals had anything more than their egos to pump, they would opt to waste way less gasoline, oil, tires, manufactured parts, tracks, spectators' lives and money by conserving resources and running shorter races. Nothing more can be accomplished over 500 miles than by racing a sensible 50.