This is unknown territory for Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag.
As the head of a flourishing racing championship series, the former Spanish politician has brought his product to Brooklyn this weekend for the first-ever New York City ePrix, the first race just mere hours away.
Nestled within Red Hook, entering the 1.5-mile track is quite a sight to behold considering such a large venue has been crammed into such a dense city.
“The first place I looked was Central Park,” Agag said. “We realized that in order to make a race, we had to cut a minimum of 100 trees. So obviously, we didn’t follow that idea. We looked at Prospect Park, but you couldn’t see the [New York City] backdrop.”
With Red Hook, Agag was able to pull something off that many before him were unable to do.
“[Former Formula One chief executive] Bernie Ecclestone called me and asked where I was. I told him, New York,” Agag recalled. “He said ‘What? Where did you find a place to race? I looked everywhere.’ And he couldn’t find a place.”
But Formula E had some advantages to land this track compared to F1.
“We’re a little more contained, we make less noise, no pollution,” he said. “It’s easier for us to get to the heart of the city.”
Immersing Formula E in New York City was a risky move considering this market knows virtually nothing about auto racing.
It didn’t show at the ticket office, though.
“The fact that we sold out (the last ticket was sold on Monday) means that the reception from the fans of New York, even if it is a new event, is great,” Agag said. “We’ve been positively surprised because we didn’t know how they’d take it.”
The grandstand at the track holds roughly 6,500 fans with an additional 2,000 around the track and in suites.
It pales in comparison to the likes of Paris or Mexico, which draws more than 40,000. Granted, auto racing is far more prevalent in those markets.
Despite no races being run yet in the New York City ePrix, Agag is already looking to the future of Formula E here, which is a clear assumption that success is just around the bend for the series.
“I’d like to have the track a little longer,” he said. “But we do have an option to go to Pier 10 next year.”