L.A. Now

Long Beach beats out L.A. to host Formula E electric car race

"These cars are fast, these cars are sexy, and they are very quiet." Electric car racing coming to Long Beach

Those who have begrudgingly adjusted to the rev of Long Beach’s Grand Prix, long dubbed the “roar on the shore,” could soon welcome a new, quieter race to Shoreline Drive.

Officials announced Thursday that Long Beach will be one of 10 cities worldwide to host Formula E, the first all-electric auto racing series, in its inaugural season.

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the event will be held April 5.

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Initially, race organizers had planned to hold the race in Los Angeles.

The new sport features open-wheel race cars, similar to those used in Formula 1, that can reach speeds of more than 150 mph.

“These cars are fast, these cars are sexy, and they are very quiet,” said Mayor Bob Foster at a news conference announcing the race.

“Long Beach and Formula E are perfect partners to launch this next generation of auto racing,” Foster added, highlighting the city’s efforts to reduce air pollution and reputation as a bike-friendly town.

Formula E will kick off in Beijing this September, with other races planned for Buenos Aires, Berlin, Monte Carlo and London. The Long Beach race, a one-day event free and open to the public, will be held April 4, two weekends before the Grand Prix.

The organization has made a one-year commitment to race in Long Beach, an agreement that could be extended.

Race organizers are hoping to partner with the Grand Prix to utilize a portion of the waterfront road course the city has become known for, which will already be built by that time.

Jim Michaelian, chief executive of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said the association has not yet reached an agreement with Formula E, but that it is “very enthusiastic” about helping the series put on its first West Coast race.

The announcement is something of a blow to Los Angeles, which courted the series last year and announced its spot on the Formula E lineup to much fanfare.

In an Earth Day media event last April, complete with a race car doing doughnuts on downtown streets, outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa heralded the race as a vehicle for bringing international attention to the city’s electric vehicle infrastructure and heightened tourism revenue to Los Angeles.

Organizers considered courses around Staples Center, Dodgers Stadium, and the L.A. Coliseum, but negotiations over logistics dragged on, said Formula E Chief Executive Alejandro Agag.

“In the end, the most sensible and practical solution was really to race in Long Beach, where there already is a race track,” Agag said.

“We’re really very happy to be able to race in Long Beach,” Agag said, noting the city’s “fantastic heritage of racing.”

Agag said he wrote to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last week to inform him the race had found an alternate venue, calling him “very supportive” of the series.

“L.A.’s economy benefits from events in Long Beach, so we are pleased to see the race coming together,” said Yusef Robb, a spokesman for Garcetti, in a statement.

Organizers for the sport say they hope to use the startup series to promote electric vehicle use and technology on a wide scale.

“By showing these cars going fast, racing, we think we can change the minds of a lot of people about electric cars,” Agag said.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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