The NYC ePrix Attracts its First Sellout Crowd
Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine - July 17, 2022
For the first time in its six-year history, the FIA Formula E New York City ePrix hosted a sell-out crowd on the track at the Brooklyn waterfront’s Red Hook cruise ship terminal. The Formula E all-electric, carbon-neutral, racing series has been struggling to gain a foothold in the United States where NASCAR and the Indy Car series have long dominated.
Above: Generation 2 Formual E race car on the Brooklyn waterfron. Credit: FIA FormulaE, (C) Jed Leicester
As the result of new ownership and increased attention to marketing, promotion, and fan engagement, the FIA’s Formula 1 racing series has made great strides in attracting more fans as was noted in recent articles, one in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine and in the May 8th, 2022, Bloomberg Business Week magazine which stated on the cover, “The world’s fastest sport is finally winning over the world’s biggest sports market”.
With its hi-tech race cars, talented pool of international drivers, big-name sponsors, multiple means for fan involvement, and its net zero carbon emissions, the FIA's Formula E racing series may finally be catching on in the United States. Among the new initiatives for fan engagement are providing race fans with the opportunity to experience taking laps around the 1.475 mile Brooklyn race course. The fan-friendly Allianz E-Village set up at the race course provided race fans with the ability to test their skill in piloting a Formula E race car against each other in Formula E racing simulators.
That the Formula E folks are doing all this is a good thing as it is highly unlikely that Formula 1 will be coming to New York since the F1 series owner, Greg Maffei rebuffed Mayor Eric Adams’ offer to hold a NYC F1 race on Randalls Island. One of Maffei’s reportedly highest concerns was the inability for fans, and the broadcast media, to see the iconic Statue of Liberty from that site according to a report in motorsport.com.
Enjoying their time in the Big Apple and showing area sports fans that these international elite drivers enjoy shooting some hoops on NYC's urban courts, several of the drivers spent some time at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Pictured below are Jean-Éric Vergne of France driving for China's DS Techeetah, Belgium's Stoffel Vandoorne, driver for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team and Mitch Evans of New Zealand, driving for Jaguar TCS Racing, taking in some basketball before the race.
Above: Shooting hoops at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo courtesy FIA FormulaE; (C)Jed Leicester
In Saturday’s race, the 11th in the 2021-22 series, Nick Cassidy driving the Envision Racing car, captured his first Formula E win being ahead of Lucas di Grassi in the ROKiT Venturi race car when the skies over New York opened up and drenched the track bringing the race to an early conclusion. The NYC race weekend concluded on Sunday with a full race under sunny skies won by Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa, driving for team DS TECHEETAH, who started the race in the pole position. It was the team’s first race of the current season and perhaps a lucky position on the pole as he claimed it after the original pole winner, and the winner of Saturday’s race, Nick Cassidy, was disqualified for modifications to his car.
Above. Sunday's race winner Antonio Felix da Costa celebrating his win. Photo courtesy FIA FormulaE. (C) Sam Bloxham
The one American, Oliver Askew, a native of Florida who started racing in karts at the age of 8 and driving for team Avalanche Andretti Formula E racing did well in qualifying, starting in the 8th position, but did not finish the race, placing 21st out of the 22 drivers. With four races to go in the season, the series moves on to London and the weekend of July 30-31 and then Seoul South Korea on August 13-14.
Above: Racing in the rain in Brooklyn, from the 2018 NYC ePrix. Photo (C) Warren Rosenberg