In-person attendance is generally seen as a litmus test for the health of a racing series. If the stands are relatively empty on any given weekend, talking heads will inevitably speculate on a decline in popularity and bemoan the sport’s future (alert readers are sure to know exactly the series to which we are alluding).
But not at Extreme E, apparently. They’re actively telling all hands to keep clear of their events.
As part of a media blast to promote this weekend’s event in Chile, organizers noted that “as with all Extreme E races, spectators are not able to attend as part of the championship’s goal to reduce its event footprint,” before going on to list the umpteen different ways one can catch the action through global broadcasters and various online sources. This surely marks one of the only racing bodies to discourage spectators. As some of my British relatives would muse: how odd.
For those not in the know, Extreme E is a series in which all-electric vehicles in the vague shape of an SUV compete in extreme environments around the world. Locations range from this weekend’s Chile to Saudi Arabia in February and Uruguay in November. Five events make up the calendar. Riffing on the ‘low footprint’ theme, Extreme E deploys a former passenger-cargo ship, refitted with modern tech and built as the series’ operations hub, to transport the championship’s freight and infrastructure to a port nearest each event. All the competing vehicles are part of its cargo. This is ostensibly to curtail enviro criticism such as that leveled at F1 which flits around the world with its gear in tow. R&D is apparently part and parcel of the ship as well, touted as permitting “scientific research through its on-board laboratory.”
Some sponsors of the event are the type you’d expect – energy drinks, EV charging outfits, and tire companies to name a few. One which stands out for this weekend’s event is the title sponsor of Antofagasta Minerals, a Chile-based conglomerate that deals in copper mining. We will let the B&B muse about the optics of a mining company, particularly one which specializes in copper mining and its attendant side effects, fronting for a racing series that places much marketing on its efforts to keep a small footprint.
If you do want to watch the festivities, Extreme E will have coverage on its website.
[image: Extreme E, © ALASTAIR STALEY]
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