by David Rose

In a city considered by many to be the least car-friendly place on the planet, one would not expect to view an international auto race with 11 world-class race teams and 22 top-level drivers from around the world. This past weekend brought thousands of race fans to the Red Hook neighborhood in Brooklyn to witness the last two races of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s 2018/2019 season.

Winding its way around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the Red Hook neighborhood were 14 very tight corners and high-speed straightaways within view of the magnificent Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

It was great to attend this event as a guest of Geox. The company is not just a sponsor for the Dragon Formula E team but they’re also partners with Jay Penske of Penske Media Corporation who founded the team. Observing the crew’s activity as they prepared the two Dragon cars in the pit garage just prior to the race was fascinating. The team’s cars are driven by Jose “Pechito” Maria Lopez from Argentina and Maximilian “Max” Gunther from Germany. It was impressive to watch the crew and the drivers coordinate their efforts while the cars were being prepped. Even more impressive was the silence as the cars left the garage: even at high speed in a pack of cars, the absence of engine noise was stunning. It was thrilling to watch these cars silently blast past our seats at roughly 174 mph and navigate the tight turns and switch-backs of this challenging racecourse.  

In addition to the eerie silence, the total lack of emissions and zero fossil fuel usage indicates that this may well be the future of motor racing, as predicted by Geox president and founder Mario Moretti Polegato. Geox shoes are best known for the technology used in production; this combined with upscale Italian styling explains why the brand has become a global success. “Inside our shoes is a special membrane” explained Polegato.  “This membrane protects the wearer’s feet even in heavy rain: only Geox has this technology. Geox also invests 2 percent of its revenue in R&D.” Indeed. It is Geox’s R&D that makes the brand a perfect partner for Formula E since both plays such advanced roles within their fields.  

The 2019 New York City E Prix of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship was a doubleheader with one Championship race on Saturday and another on Sunday. Saturday’s winner was Sebastian Buemi from Switzerland who ended a two-year dry spell with his winning drive for the Nissan e.dams team. Sunday’s winner was the Dutch driver Robin Reijns, driving for Envision Virgin Racing. After 13 races in 12 cities across five continents, the series championship was won by the French driver Jean-Eric Vergne of the DS Techeetah team. Vergne is the first driver in the series to win back to back Formula E championships.