This weekend will bring the very first international car race in New York City – the FIA Formula E Qualcomm NYC ePrix Championship, the world’s fully-electric single-seater racing series. When completed, the multi-city event will take place on the streets of nine cities across five continents – Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Monaco, Montreal, Marrakesh, Mexico City, Berlin, and Buenos Aires.  The New York City version will take place at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. There will be great views of lower Manhattan and the Statue Liberty, serving as the backdrop of the race.

The aim is to bring a new vision for the future of the motor industry, focused on clean racing and electric cars, said Alejandro Agag, Founder & CEO of Formula E, on the recent press call in advance of this weekend’s events. He hopes the event will “fill a gap in  motor sports,” and continue to make racing “relevant to society.” Clearly excited about the prospect of bringing the first international car race to New York City, he contended this weekend’s Formula E race was “going to make history in motor racing.”

The Formula E team has been working for four years to find a location to race in New York City, with the race, which began in September 2014 at the Olympic Park in Beijing, currently in its third season. Locations considered included Governors Island (deemed impractical due to energy supply and logistics needs), Central Park (a race would require cutting down trees), and Liberty Park, which was not within the five boroughs.

Ultimately, it came down to a little luck and a lot of persistence. New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen happened to be in Paris with her daughter in May and walked to see the Formula E race. With her support and the backing of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCDC), “everything just came together,” says Agag.

When asked about what it took to adapt the cruise terminal for the Formula E race, Agag says they brought “significant improvement of the basement. The basement is brand new.  We also did the extension of the [NYC] ferry landing to improve the access. We’ve changed some sidewalks, repaved the parking lot and access roads to the terminal.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony on 7/12/17 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal 

Both Agag and racer Michael Andretti, who was also on the press call, see Formula E as a testing ground for new, green technologies. Andretti says,

“For me, a lot of people ask why do we get involved. Number one, we have to look at the future. I believe this could very well be the future of auto racing and automobiles as well. To be able to be in the ground floor of a new technology is quite exciting from our standpoint. In racing, it’s all about technology. It’s all about pushing the envelope. It’s been fun to see where the growth is and where it is going to go…knowing that a lot of the things we’re going to be developing, you’ll see a lot of technologies end up being in the road cars. That’s why I think there is so much interest in the Formula E’s around the world. They are all looking at electric for the future. Competition pushes everyone to push the technology further and faster, and that’s what I think Formula E is going to be about for the future.”

The cars at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on 7/12/17

Agag concurs saying for urban areas, Formula E in particular “shows the capability of a green technology. People are concerned about the environment, concerned about trucks and cars sitting, idling. So, this is to show there is an alternative and it is the future. You get to see it perform on a race track…Electric cars are needed in every city in the world.” He also spoke to the health benefits of electric cars on urban populations.

The cars at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on 7/12/17

There will be 10 teams and 20 drivers competing on a 1.95 kilometre circuit with 10 turns. The races will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are sold out, but there are 1000 complimentary passes available for community members who live in Red Hook to pick up at these locations. The complimentary passes provide access to the Allianz eVillage fan zone, an entertainment area for fans of all ages to watch the race and features driver autograph sessions, race simulators, and live music.

Stay tuned on Untapped Cities for photographs from the race itself and see images of the all electric Formula E cars as they’re unpacked and set up in Brooklyn.

Next, check out 10 historical secrets unlocked by the NYC Ferry.