New York ePrix: Brooklyn beckons for Formula E racers

    Story highlights

    • New York hosts first ever motor race
    • Formula E street races taking place in Red Hook, Brooklyn

    (CNN)Scene of great American novels and the location for dozens of Hollywood movies, Brooklyn will be the setting for a brand new sporting chapter in New York's history this weekend.

    Formula E, the world's first, and only all-electric racing series, is hitting the streets of the borough's Red Hook district on Saturday and Sunday -- the first time an international motor race of any description has been staged in The Big Apple.
      The addition of New York to Formula E's race calendar represents an important milestone for the sport which already boasts an impressive roster of city-center venues including Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and Montreal -- which will host the season three finale at the end of July.
      "We think this race in New York is a turning point for Formula E," says Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag. "It shows how far the championship has come -- New York is basically the capital of the world."
      The series has visited American shores before -- Long Beach has hosted two ePrix and Miami featured in the inaugural season -- but racing in New York raises Formula E's profile even higher.
      "It's unreal to be in New York to race," Felix Rosenqvist, driver for the Mahindra Racing team, told CNN.
      "It's the first time that anyone has done it and I'm happy to be part of that."
      The Swede currently lies third in the drivers' title race behind arch rivals Lucas di Grassi and championship leader Sebastian Buemi -- although the latter will not feature at this weekend's races.
      A calendar clash with the World Endurance Championship -- which also affects Formula E regular Jose-Maria Lopez -- means GP2 champion Pierre Gasly and Alex Lynn will make their electric car debuts.
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      Rosenqvist has excelled in his rookie season, finishing on the podium three times, including a maiden win in Berlin last month.
      The 25-year-old has earned a reputation as something of a street circuit specialist but the 1.95-kilometer (1.2-mile) layout in Red Hook will be challenging.
      "From the simulator it seems quite tight and twisty," Rosenqvist says of the course that runs around the waterside at Red Hook.
      "It's definitely one of those really technical circuits -- I think you can compare it to Paris a little bit. So I think damage limitation is going to be one key thing this weekend."
      The layout of the track for the New York ePrix in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
      Brooklyn-based businessman Matt Lewis, co-owner of Baked NYC -- a stone's throw from the race track -- has given Formula E's arrival the thumbs up.
      "Anybody that's trying to do something in Red Hook that can bring business and jobs to the community we embrace them with open arms -- as long they have this continued back dialogue with the community," Lewis told CNN.
      "And to their credit Formula E did have that reach out."
      The sport's polished image might seem slightly at odds with the gritty Brooklyn vibe but there is common ground between the two on the subject of renewable energy.
      In the wake of Hurricane Sandy -- which caused extensive damage, flooding and power outages in October 2012 -- efforts have been stepped up to generate more electricity locally.
      A recent initiative, the Brooklyn Microgrid, allows locals with solar panels to sell any excess energy to their neighbors with a long-term aim that the borough can achieve a degree of independence from the grid.
      Formula E won't be providing too much of a drain on local electrical supplies during its flying visit -- all the race cars are charged using carbon-neutral glycerine generators provided by UK firm Aquafuel.
      Both New York ePrix races are reportedly sold out and spectators heading over to Brooklyn can expect a warm welcome and some spectacular views of the city from the grandstands.
      "It's always been a great little neighborhood and it still has, unlike many, many parts of New York, that neighborhood feel," Lewis says.
      "Red Hook has a very special in my heart because I think it's one of the very few areas in New York that has an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty."
      The stage is set for electric racing's torchbearers.