First, I’d like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the first ever FIA Formula E New York City ePrix for giving me the opportunity to participate in such an amazing event. Thank you!
I could only imagine what it took logistically to put this race on. And it certainly took a lot of different groups to come together and pitch in for the occasion. I saw Jeanie from CoTA running around with a radio looking very official. Walking in Friday morning there was a Pocono Raceway truck prominently parked at the entrance. According to the fire marshal posted at the Finish line they provided 10 of their fire crew for the race. I know that the Northern New Jersey and New England region flag chiefs co-chief’ed the event bringing flag and communications marshals not only from their local regions but from around the country and around the world. I got the pleasure to work with a Pit Lane chief from Arizona, alongside marshals from my home region as well as from Canada (both Ontario and Quebec) and from France (Paul Riccard Circuit!). That was super cool. And even though I didn’t make it onto the Scrutineer team like I was hoping to do, I got to work closely with them in pit lane which was mission accomplished for me. So I was thrilled.
What exactly did I get to do… well everything I wanted to.
- I got to be in Pit Lane, as pit lane marshal
- I was posted at Pit Out, working a Radar gun
- I got to wave the green flag when the lights malfunctioned
- I got to push some Formula E cars around to Parc Ferme
- I got to steer one of the FE cars instead of a Scrutineer
What more could I possibly ask for?
There were some awesome perks for working this event. After all it was my local race, just about 30 miles from home. Although using public transport it took me longer to get there than it usually does to go to Lime Rock or Pocono Raceway. The organizers provided two nights hotel stay free of charge. We had an awesome pizza party on Saturday which they generously over-estimated allowing me and probably many others to take a few slices back to the hotel to have cold pizza for breakfast. The shuttle buses were provided to get to the track which was super convenient. It was great, and greatly appreciated too!
The series and the races didn’t disappoint either. First of all it was a big and small atmosphere at the same time. Big because there was a lot of clout for this massive international event. But small enough that the whole pit lane and garages filled a relatively small area. The pit lane set up was unique in that the garages faced each other, and therefore when cars were released they shot out at each other slotting into one lane. Even the safety cars and medical cars were electric, provided by BMW and including i3, i8 and an X5 hybrid electric SUV. It was cool to see i3’s with German plates (from Bavaria) and the North American HQ with American (New Jersey) plates. Cars looked identical and yet unique. I loved the little things that were noticeable about them.
The races were messy, and yet with limited safety car or virtual safety car periods. I managed to sneak a peek at the start on a big screen near pit lane and it was nuts to see all those pieces of body panels flying as cars inevitably bumped into each other on a tight circuit… but they continued. Some cars stopped on track and our fellow F&C marshals got to respond under local yellow to push them into cutouts. Which by the way were awesome. The track set up, including catch fencing and marshal post cutouts were perfect. Nice big holes, marked by orange paint and without sharp fencing edges sticking around. I mean someone did an awesome job designing and executing the set up. It was unlike any other street circuit I’ve done recently for IndyCar or Formula 1 for example. Props to them.
And then there was the view. The views were spectacular. You could see lower Manhattan across the river. You can see various boats and ferries passing by. You could see the Statue of Liberty. And with the weather we had it was a perfect view to take in. I’m even super happy it rained on Friday because it added to the appearance/view of the track with big rooster tails one day, and nice shiny cars the next on a sunny day. It was perfect!
All in all I had a blast. I feel lucky to have had a chance to participate. And I feel very proud of the job the organizers did to put on this event. I think this race was incredible and I am totally looking forward to doing more events for Formula E. It’s a shame it took me this long to volunteer I remember planning to go to Cyber Jaya on the first season or at the very least the Miami race, but never did.
Oh… and for those that say there’s no sound. That’s a tricky one. The sound is deafening. It’s a very high pitch electric/metalic noise that comes through as the cars leave past you at full blast. Coming at you though you can’t hear them at all, which is nuts, but that was the function of our Pit Lane team, whistling every time a vehicle was in pit lane because none of them could be heard at slow speed. But being at Pit Out and seeing them go full throttle you could definitely hear them and maybe even too much. The fact many of them went way too close to the wall on exit, often hitting it, that was another sound that was clearly audible. Body panels bottoming out or smacking the wall make very loud noises that you don’t normally hear over traditional engine noise.
I loved this event! I want to do more…