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Sam Bird, who swept the weekend with two wins. [Eddie LePine Photo]

Sam Bird, who swept the weekend with two wins. [Eddie LePine Photo]

By Eddie LePine

It was off to the Big Apple this week for the first professional motor race to be held in the city of New York – FIA Formula e.

The races were going to be held on a temporary street circuit set up in Brooklyn and I was looking forward to it, having been exposed to Formula e previously at the Long Beach event last year.

I flew to Atlantic City from Orlando and met my good friend Joe DeBlasio, who was to be my host and guide on my New York adventure. It was great, as I didn’t have to worry about where to go or where to stay, as Joe took care of everything. It was more like a vacation than a trip to cover a racing event. Joe knows all the good restaurants, and we have some very fine meals on this trip.

Upon arriving in New Jersey, we took an hour and a half bus ride to New York, where we dropped our bags off at the condo we were staying at in Manhattan (pretty nice). Then we grabbed an Uber for the ride to the track, with a stop at the Empire State building along the way, where Richard Branson was holding a press conference. I made it just in time to grab Richard for a quick selfie (he was very gracious), and then it was back in the Uber for the trip to the track in Brooklyn.

I walked the track with several of the drivers, and I must say, it was a very, very narrow and challenging circuit. It was a bit too narrow, in my and several of the driver’s opinions. Nick Heidfeld said it was going to be almost impossible to do any passing, due to how narrow and tight the circuit was. Sam Bird was also on hand, missing the FIA-WEC race at Nurburgring to do the Formula e race in New York. You would think they could get the scheduling right so there wouldn’t be FIA races on the same weekend, but that is for the organizers to figure out.

It was a successful weekend for Sam Bird, as he won both races driving the Virgin Racing car for none other than Richard Branson, who I did the selfie with on Thursday. Perhaps I brought Richard Branson good luck – I will have to remind him the next time I see him.

It is crazy getting around in New York City, and it took a combination of trains, buses and Uber rides to get around. The traffic is amazing, even worse than the congestion I am used to on I-4 in Orlando (maybe because the snow birds we are used to dealing with in Florida are all back in New York for the summer).

Regardless, it was a great trip and it was nice to be able to see Formula e on the streets of New York. Perhaps in the future they can move the event closer to downtown and maybe have a little wider and faster track. The crowds loved Formula e in New York, and I am sure they will return for more racing in the future.

I know I will.

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Eddie has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up).