No small question to answer here “Can Motorsport survive the Electric Epidemic?”, best get started then.
The rise of the electric car is hard to hide from at this point, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes and well everyone really is going battery powered, so what does that mean for the raucous world of motorsports? Well inevitably it means change, motorsport at the highest levels is primarily funded and supported by car manufacturers who utilise and incorporate technology and advancements from racing into road cars. Now if the main focus of these manufacturers is on advancing and developing better electric cars then.. well you’ve guessed it they will want to see electric cars racing and competing. We have already seen the impact of this shift in attention, with Formula E, which although in its 4th season has only just started to attract the big names, both in terms of manufacturers and sponsors. As a knock on effect the drivers are starting to look that way too, Sébastien Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi, Nicolas Prost, Nelson Piquet Jr. are all already competitors. These are some very experienced and accomplished drivers, and other big names are now being linked with the series.
Whilst this all bodes extremely well for electric racing it doesn’t spell the end for traditional motorsports, not yet anyway. The reality is that petrol fuelled cars on race tracks of all types are still the big draw. Even without taking American specific series into account (which are largely non-hybrid) the likes of F1, touring cars, Le Mans series and hundreds of other classes are still going strong. The US Grand Prix in Austin Texas attracts crowds of over 100,000 people to the track, and global viewership for F1 is still over 400 million. Le Mans draws upwards of 250,000 people to le Sarthe and has global viewership of over 120 million. Whilst they are all having to adapt and learn in this changing landscape that is an exciting thing for fans. Looking at the current evolutions in Le Mans for example and the ongoing success of touring cars, what fans seem to want is to see cars on the race track that are reflective of those they see on the road. For me this is very true, nothing excites me more than the idea that those cars doing amazing things at awesome speeds are achievable, reachable, drivable for us mere mortals. Even if our versions may cost a small fortune and weigh a hell of a lot more.
So for now at least the answer is yes motorsports can and will survive electric, not only in the traditional sense of roaring petrol engines, but also in this ever changing landscape of power sources. If anything this is just another step in the evolution of the car and by proxy that means the evolution of motorsports. As they say with evolution only the fittest survive, so let’s see what the future looks like when we are there. For now breathe in those fumes, listen to those screaming engines and enjoy the present.
Joe Norris, Director of Dyno Driven, has commented,
“Considering motorsport in its infancy, the cars were not as quick or agile as they are today but they were exciting as things were happening. If we look at the introduction of electric car racing in the same way, while we have a way to go, it is exciting to see the beginning of something that will surely advance as innovation continues. We believe that motorsport will certainly survive the move to electric vehicles, as car racing is not about the fuel it’s about the performance. The sport will evolve rather than die.”