After an absence of more than a century, big time international auto racing returns to the streets of New York City. On July 15th and 16th, the New York City ePrix will be run on the waterfront of the Big Apple. The FIA, sponsoring organization of international Formula 1 Grand Prix racing, brings its all electric ePrix series to the streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The reference to “on the waterfront” is an accurate one. The racetrack is laid out on the streets adjacent to the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal which, in the 1940s and 50s, was the site where New York’s longshoremen toiled under oppressive conditions and brought to life in Elia Kazan’s film, On the Waterfront, starring Marlin Brando (although the film was actually shot in Hoboken, NJ).
Above: DS Virgin Racing's Formula E Car on the streets of Brooklyn. Courtesy of DS Virgin Racing.
The 1.2 mile long track consisting of 10 tight turns will be navigated 43 times in each of two races, one held on Saturday, July 15th at 4:00 pm and the second on Sunday, July 16th at 1:00 pm.
The FIA Formula E Championship is the world's first fully-electric single-seater racing series, competing on the streets against the backdrop of some of the most iconic cities - including Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Buenos Aires, Monaco, Paris, New York and Montreal. The championship represents a vision for the future of the motor industry, serving as a platform to showcase the latest innovations in electric vehicle technology and alternative energy solutions. Future seasons will see the regulations open up further allowing manufacturers to focus on the development of motor and battery components, which in turn will filter down to everyday contemporary electric road vehicles.
Above: Panasonic/Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans strapped in and ready to race. Courtesy of Panasonic Jaguar Racing
The 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship sees 10 teams and 20 drivers go wheel-to-wheel in nine cities spanning five continents in the fight to be crowned Formula E champion. The inaugural season of Formula E sparked into life in September 2014 around the grounds of the Olympic Park in Beijing. The third season of the electric street racing series started on October 9 in Hong Kong, with the season finale double-header taking place in Montreal on July 29 & 30.
Some media outlets are mischaracterizing the 2017 FIA ePrix as New York City’s first international auto race. CNN erroneously reports that, “Formula E, the world's first, and only all-electric racing series, is hitting the streets of the borough's Red Hook district on Saturday and Sunday -- the first time an international motor race of any description has been staged in The Big Apple” (http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/14/motorsport/new-york-formula-e-brooklyn-red-hook/index.html). Even the New York Times seems to forget the City’s racing history, surprising by nature of the fact that they were one of the two sponsors of an international auto race through the streets of NYC back in 1908 (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/13/nyregion/red-hook-formula-e-electric-car-race.html).
Perhaps lost in history but recently covered in the April issue of MetroSports Magazine (www.MetroSportsMag.com), New York City was a hotbed of automobile racing at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1896, America’s second automobile race took place over the streets of New York City, setting off from just north of the present City Hall Park in Manhattan, traveling up Broadway and through the Bronx, and ending in the Westchester County town of Irvington at the headquarters of Cosmopolitan Magazine (then located in Irvington) before looping back to complete the 104 mile circuit. Billed as the Cosmopolitan Race, it featured some of the first versions of the horseless carriage which achieved an average speed of 10 mph. Twelve years later, in 1908, the New York to Paris Automobile Race took off from Times Square on February 12, 1908. Six cars started the 169 day long race covered 22,000 miles on three continents Italy, France Germany and the U.S.
New York City’s return to international auto racing is a high profile event featuring teams from Virgin Atlantic’s Sir Richard Branson and Michael Andretti’s MS Amlin team among others.The MS Andretti Team’s Roger Griffiths says “For the MS Amlin Andretti Formula E team, the race here in New York City brings us the first chance to race on home soil and in front of the American public since the Long Beach ePrix in Season 2.”
Felix Rosenqvist the driver for Mahindra Racing’s M3Electro Car expresses his excitement when he states, “I can’t wait to go racing in New York City. I’ve competed in the United States before but I’m looking forward to racing around the streets of Brooklyn in the M3Electro. It’s a really important race for the team and we’re confident we can continue our podium streak – and hopefully chase down more wins! I’m also really looking forward to exploring the city – I’ve only been to New York once but didn’t get a chance to see the sights.”
Above: Sir Richard Branson, the MS Virgin team reserve driver, lighting up the Empire State Building. Courtesy of MS Virgin Racing.
“Thank you to the Empire State Building for welcoming the Formula E racing series to New York City, with its beautiful LED lit towers," said Virgin founder Richard Branson, who now joins the likes of David Beckham and Mariah Carey in performing such ceremonies. "Just as the Empire State Building remains a leader in energy efficiency, the many teams like DS Virgin Racing and fans of the Formula E series are committed to a brighter and more sustainable future."
Look for more coverage and final results in MetroSports Magazine.