Elec­tric cars in ePrix ready to charge onto Long Beach streets

For­mula E race, one in a global se­ries, will use part of the Toy­ota Grand Prix route.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Jim Peltz james.peltz@la­times.com Twit­ter: @PeltzLATimes

Race cars will be back on the streets of Long Beach on Satur­day, but earplugs won’t be needed.

For­mula E, a new se­ries fea­tur­ing elec­tric-pow­ered cars, will hold its first Long Beach ePrix on some of the same streets that will be used later this month in the ven­er­a­ble Toy­ota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Long Beach is the sixth stop on the in­au­gu­ral 10-race For­mula E cal­en­dar, a sched­ule that spans the globe with races in Europe, South Amer­ica and Asia.

Gen­eral ad­mis­sion to the Long Beach race is free as For­mula E tries to build mo­men­tum, es­pe­cially with younger fans and those in­trigued with elec­tric-car tech­nol­ogy.

“We def­i­nitely wanted to come to Cal­i­for­nia; Cal­i­for­nia is the home of the elec­tric car,” Ale­jan­dro Agag, For­mula E’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said in an in­ter­view.

For­mula E ini­tially thought of hav­ing rac­ing on the streets of Los An­ge­les, but “Long Beach, with its fan­tas­tic rac­ing his­tory and a track ready to use, was an op­tion that made more sense,” Agag said.

The se­ries is sanc­tioned by the FIA, the gov­ern­ing body of the For­mula One rac­ing se­ries. For­mula E’s cars are roughly sim­i­lar in ap­pear­ance to the cars in For­mula One and the Ver­i­zon Indy­Car Se­ries, which holds the tra­di­tional Long Beach Grand Prix.

There are 20 For­mula E driv­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer For­mula One driv­ers Nick Hei­d­feld and Bruno Senna, on 10 teams.

Five dif­fer­ent driv­ers won the first five races. The most re­cent win­ner, at a race on the streets of Miami, was French driver Ni­co­las Prost, son of four-time For­mula One cham­pion Alain Prost.

Be­cause of bat­ter­ies’ limited life, each driver has two cars for the race and changes cars dur­ing a pit stop. The se­ries hopes that, within a few years, im­proved bat­ter­ies will en­able each driver to need only one car per race.

The se­ries also lacks one of rac­ing’s al­lur­ing signatures: pierc­ingly loud noise. The sound of For­mula E’s cars has been com­pared with hear­ing a su­per­charged hair dryer, den­tist’s drill or fu­tur­is­tic Star Wars ve­hi­cle whiz past.

Re­gard­less, For­mula E re­cently said two com­pa­nies backed by me­dia mogul John Malone, Lib­erty Global and Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, had in­vested in For­mula E’s fu­ture by jointly ac­quir­ing a mi­nor­ity own­er­ship stake.

The terms were not dis­closed, but Agag said the two firms are now For­mula E’s largest share­holder. “To have such solid and strong strate­gic part­ners, we were re­ally happy with that,” he said.

For­mula E is a one-day event. Af­ter three prac­tice ses­sions in the morn­ing, qual­i­fy­ing is at noon and the one-hour race over 39 laps starts at 4 p.m.

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