Electric Car Race Series Features Formula 1-Style Cars & Atmosphere
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Blogger
Any fan of motorsports who is looking for something exciting and a bit different will get a real “charge” out of Formula E racing.
There’s a lot to like about Formula E, a second-year series involving Formula 1-style race cars that use batteries for power.
For starters, the events take place all in one day – practice, qualifying and the race – and because of the battery technology the races can only last an hour. Plus, it’s the only show on the track that day.
That’s when I knew I would like it immediately. I’ve been involved in racing long enough to grow tired of the long three-day weekends, the endless lineup of various races taking place throughout the days and races that last two, three, even four or more hours.
It’s also very European, which is a cool feeling in the USA. I was at the Long Beach ePrix and got the feeling that Formula E was a kind of junior Formula 1 event.
Frankly, I wasn’t what sure to expect from it. But I was pleasantly surprised by it.
The ‘Screech By The Beach’
For starters, there’s no roar of the engines, no high-pitched whine like Formula 1 or IndyCar, no deep-throated “vroom” as in NASCAR.
Rather, the cars sound like the faint noise of airplane’s jet engine at a distance.
One local TV reporter, Dave Kuntz of KABC, cleverly called it not the “Roar By The Shore” as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is known, but the “Screech By The Beach.”
There are also some cool elements other racing series’ need to emulate. Motorsports is in need of a fan boost and Formula E provides it by doing things such as virtual reality racing in which fans can get inside the cockpit of a driver from home, and something called, well, #FanBoost.
Use that hashtag on social media and the Formula E website and vote to give a driver an extra boost of power during the race.
But it’s what the series does at the events that really give it a boost. The races are fun. Within the “e Village,” which is filled with food and merchandise booths like at every other race, there’s a “Race Booth” with simulators that fans can use and even race against the drivers a couple hours before the real race.
Grid girls – 18 beautiful women – make an appearance and pose for photos before the start of the race. (Tho I have to say the lone “grid guy” is NOT a good idea.)
During the races, because of limited battery life of only half an hour, there’s a different kind of pit stop – the driver pulls in, jumps out of the car, then gets in another car. The announcer makes dramatic countdowns, saying things such as the leaders are “at 51%,” then “at 15%,” then the leader is “down to 3%!!!”
Imagine how much more exciting other racing would be if fans knew the fuel situation of the leaders.
Then there’s the post-race celebration. Fans are invited to the podium area, which is a big stage like at a concert. A gap is formed in the crowd and the drivers – one by one – run through it high-fiving people. They then hop up on the stage, get their trophies and spray champagne on the crowd.
In all other forms of racing, Victory Circle is reserved for officials, teams and press photographers. And with the “hat dance” of sponsors, it lasts achingly long. Formula E’s ceremony was quick, efficient and fun.
All this leaves you walking away from the event saying “that was pretty cool!”
Yet even with Telsa and the James Bond-looking Faraday Future car, the series must fight perceptions about electric cars on a race track. I had invited a friend to it and she blew it off, then was mad at herself when I showed her pictures and video of the race.
“Those are Formula 1 cars!,” she exclaimed. “Had I known, I would have gone in a heartbeat. When you said ‘electric cars,’ I thought it was a bunch of Chevy Volts going around the track.”
No, they are not Chevy Volts, they are real race cars capable of going more than 130 mph on a tight street course held in the middle of major cities throughout the world.
And in many ways, it’s an electrifying experience.