United States Grand Prix YEAR 6 Fan Recap

Fans at COTA USGP 2017Fan Recap with Race Results

Race action highlights included Lewis Hamilton winning the race with Sebastian Vettel in a close second. Some great on-track action was given to fans with the Mercedes and the Ferrari battling it out at the start and then later during pit stop rotations. During the closing few corners of the grand prix, Max Verstappen was able to maneuver past Kimi Raikkonen to take third place. However, Verstappen exceeded track limits and was immediately given a 5 second time penalty that relegated him to 4th. Overall an exciting race to watch and not the sometimes snoozefest of other F1 races.

Ferrari at COTA USGP 2017

The United States Grand Prix brings excitement to fans, both on track and after the racing is done for the day. Several support races in 2017 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on the F1 weekend. There was FIA Formula 4, a feeder series for open wheel racing, and the Masters Historic Racing, which is comprised of classic Formula 1 race cars from the years of 1966 to 1985. Two wonderful open-wheel series that provide huge levels of car eye candy and racing action. But, the fun and entertainment were not just on the track!

Double Header Fan Entertainment

The USGP race weekend had big entertainment names on the roster. First, Justin Timberlake performed Saturday night after the F1 qualifying session. The concert was relatively brief, but JT didn’t underwhelm. Then on Sunday night following the GP, Stevie Wonder performed and entertained as he always does so well. As an added bonus at the track COTA erected a Fan Zone with a Ferris wheel and activities for the whole family. But, what appealed to me as a huge fan was the easy access to food and beverages along with little wait times for the bathroom. COTA does a good job of making sure the race fan has a good experience. Not everything is always smooth like butter, but I sincerely feel this track listens to fans and makes changes quickly to improve the fan experience.

COTA tower at night

I realized the true willingness to improve the fan experience by Circuit of the Americas when traveling to other Formula 1 races and other racing events in general. One big aspect that stood out to me at COTA is the ability to circumvent the entire track. As a fan, one can walk around the entire perimeter of the track with little areas off limits. This was quite the contrast to the F1 race at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. I attended last year and was limited to a small area of the track inside the baseball complex. The food and beverage options were extremely limited and the entertainment off-track was nill. The two track experiences were night and day contrast. This is why I will recommend a COTA visit over another track.

No Downtown Austin Fan Zone

One thing that was missing for me was the absence of the downtown Austin Fan Zone Experience. It seemed like there was an attempt to be replicated on site at COTA with the Fan Zone and the two big name concerts, but it fell short in my opinion. Having F1 and all the circus and circumstance around it in the heart of Austin made me feel welcome as a race fan. To me having the downtown entertainment brought the entire race weekend from the track into the heart of the city. This only improved the experience for me as a fan. My hopes are that the City of Austin, Circuit of the Americas, and Liberty Media can come to a huge compromise and throw the ultimate Formula weekend party that encompasses COTA and downtown Austin.

This weekend in Austin saw Mercedes take the 2017 Manufacturers Championship, but left the Drivers Championship still alive. It will be difficult for Ferrari’s Vettel to make up the points deficit to beat Hamilton, but that’s why we are race fans and watch the events. COTA’s Fan Experience was fantastic and I hope that downtown Austin can be more assimilated into the F1 weekend festivities in the future. Having Austin in the middle of the F1 mix made it a “bigger” event to me. However, all-in-all, the USGP weekend did not disappoint in the least.


Red Bull GRC Series Port of LA Season Finale, the Fan Perspective

The Red Bull GRC Series made the final stop of the 2017 season in the Port of Los Angeles. It wrapped up another spectacular season of rallycross racing. As a recognized motorsports Super Fan, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to witness 600HP rockets fly around a dirt track and take jumps like racehorses. It was my third year attending and the GRC series never disappoints when making a stop in the Port of LA!

The Fan Perspective

As an up-n-coming motorsport fan journalist, I really appreciate the openness and ease of media relations that the Red Bull GRC Series enables. The entire staff are extremely helpful and honestly made me feel like they wanted me, as a journalist, to have an excellent experience. I feel this is also directly translated to the overall event and is extended to all GRC fans. Red Bull has once again conquered the event experience and provided a rich time for fans.

I thoroughly enjoy telling the story of a motorsports event from the fan perspective. Fans are what drive sports! (Pun intended). Showing and telling the fan story, as I experience it, hopefully, can show how motorsport events are a really good time. And, possibly encourage others to follow alternative racing events like Red Bul GRC Series, Formula E, and soon, Roborace.

Traditionally, the higher up the pay scale of the race series the more disconnected the drivers, team personnel, and overall series staff got from the fans. It gets close to the point (like in Formula 1) where the fans almost appear to be an inconvenience to the race event itself. Now, thanks in part to NASCAR’s success with fan interactions, other series are getting back to what actually makes them exist in the first place. Fans are basically why racing exists and continues, so it is quite invigorating to see other top-tier series embrace fans too.

Great Track View for Fans

This is a great panoramic shot of the entire track. It is the view that almost all the fans had to watch the on track action!

Season Finale Results

2017 Port of LA RBGRC podium

The entire Red Bull GRC series race season was dominated by the Andretti VW duo of Scott Speed and Tanner Foust. So it was no surprise that they ended the season on top of the podium. Foust took the Port of LA race win to finally get a race win in Los Angeles. And, Speed took his 3rd consecutive GRC Supercars championship.

Local Beer Perk

A great perk from the fan perspective was seeing 805 being served as the beer choice. Firestone Walker, a mid-California based craft brewery, was the sole beer provider. They came prepared with lots of attractive staff, 2 well tapped serving stations, and lots of swag to give out. I thought it was fantastic to have one of my favorite beers served and they are basically a local brew. This was good planning by Red Bull events to tie in a higher end beer choice with a local flare. My kudos to the team that decided to make that choice.

805 beer at Red Bull GRC Series in the Port of LA

The fan experience is only improved when access is granted to the paddock and pits area. Red Bull GRC Series has a very open pit and trailer area where lots of great inside shots can be taken of the 600 HP mini-beasts that scream around the course. I was fortunate enough to get a little behind the scenes and see some of the cars in their most stripped down, “DAMN! We gotta fix this thing!” condition Saturday after the Super Cars final.

RBGRC Paddock 2017 Port of LA - Tanner FoustRBGRC Paddock 2017 Port of LA - Scott Speed VW
RBGRC Paddock 2017 Port of LA - 1RBGRC Paddock 2017 Port of LA - 3

Red Bull GRC Series only improves from the fan perspective year over year. The cars are fast, the racing is dicey and exciting, and the Series gets what needs to be done for success. I encourage everyone who likes motorsports to check out this action-packed, “rocket” filled series. It starts all over again next year in April so put it on the racing calendar and tune in!

Formula E Super Fan – the Ultimate Fan Experience

Formula E introduced the Super Fan in season 3. This is an amazing concept that will drive even more fan dedication for the up-n-coming motorsport series. The new series set itself apart early on as a race series that embraces fans and encourages fan interaction with the eVillage, FanBoost, driver/fan sessions, eRacing, etc. That initiative was reinforced even more with this season by showcasing and spotlighting an ultimate fan. A Formula E fan that goes over and beyond fanaticism got chosen to have a racing experience of a life, and be deemed the “Super Fan!”

The First Super Fan

The Super Fan concept was introduced at the Berlin ePrix at Tempelhof in 2017. The lucky first pick was James Harmon, a 22-year-old Welsh gentleman who is very keen on motorsports. He is a passionate racing fan and was thrilled by the opportunity Formula E granted him in Berlin with being the first SuperFan. Watch the video and see the emotion in his face and hear it in his voice. James is a true Formula E Super Fan and a fine lead-off example of what FE fandom can produce.

I watched the video for the first time shortly after the Berlin race and felt overjoyed for the guy. My past experiences with everyone involved with Formula E were so positive so I was happy to see others enjoying the positive vibe that FE embodies. Appreciating the fan and going that extra step to ensure their good time is one of the big things that drew me to Formula E. It’s been a key selling point of the series since I first encountered FE at Long Beach in season 1.

When Formula E announced the season 3 schedule, I admittedly was very disappointed that Long Beach was axed from the calendar. However, I am an FE fan due to their great efforts in season 1 and 2, so the choice to trek to New York was almost a no-brainer. Hotel got booked, flights locked in, friends notified of arrival in NYC area, and off I went to see the brand new course on the streets of New York City. The track was amazing! The Formula E area was nestled in the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Redhook. The track wound around the terminal area and encompassed some of the local street areas. One of the best areas was the beer garden area where live music played and good beers flowed. Overall, I missed my Long Beach track, but the NYC area as a whole was very inviting and made for a great race location in my opinion.

The Second Super Fan

The high point of the NYCePrix was the total surprise of being chosen as the second Formula E Super Fan. To say I was elated and brought to tears is an understatement. I completely agree with James Hardon when he says in the video that “This is the greatest day of my life.” There’s more to my NYCePrix Super Fan story if you want to read about it and see some great photos. Plus, I met Sir Richard Branson and got it all on video.

I got the chance to speak with Manolo Ortiz-Tallo, Director of FE events while on stageStephen Harvey and Director of Formula E events at NYCePrix waiting for the Formula E drivers and Sir Richard to come up. He was pleased to hear that I traveled all the way from Long Beach, California to be a part of the New York weekend. I told him that the Super Fan experience was a highlight of my life and an initiative that needed to continue.

The Super Fan Experience Must Continue

Now Formula E has 2 Super Fans! Both fully agree that the experience is the best thing that has happened in their motorsport-fan lives. This is a great effort that Formula E can continue. FE can grow their fan base with this effort and truly reward the fans that wholeheartedly support everything that Formula E is showcasing to the world. The Super Fan effort can be even greater when teams like Mahindra and Techeetah reinforce the fan experience with campaigns like #Passioneers and fan contests during the season. Reinforcing all those efforts is what DHL Americas does on Friday prior to the race day/weekend. This is when a lot of the press and PR relations happen. Motorsports journalists and other racing outlet reps are invited in to hear how DHL moves Formula E around the globe. Then directly following, everyone is toured through the FE pitlane. The whole Friday experience really reinforces the die-hard racing enthusiast’s passion for Formula E and helps fans get a deeper understanding of the series.

Being lucky enough to be chosen as Formula E Super Fan is amazing. This is a program that has brought immense joy into two people’s lives leaving them with moments in time they will never forget. The type of moments that will be treasured for a lifetime and talked about for ages. Formula E needs to continue this program of rewarding true FE fans with a lifetime experience. And, work with the teams and logistics partners to make the Super Fan the ultimate fan experience for any racing series.



Formula E Season 3 Wrap Up

Formula E season three was amaze-balls! This season will go down in history as the pivotal season for the budding motorsport series. It was an eventful season for me with the NYCePrix and being a Super Fan. Here are some other reasons why too!

The ePrix Locations!

The races rival no other series in where they are located. The majority of the races take place on public streets in the heart of metropolitan areas. Two of the best examples of Formula E street courses in the middle of major cities are the New York ePrix and the Montreal ePrix.

This was the first season that these iconic cities were on the calendar, but they once again showed that Formula E can get races into places where other series like Formula 1 and NASCAR and WEC could not even dream of going. Having races in the urban areas really helps to bring the event to the people.

The Racing Action!

This season saw a new FE World Champion with Lucas Di Grassi of ABT Schaeffler Audi Formula E team. He narrowly beat out 2-time FE World Champion Sebastian Buemi of Renault e.Dams Formula E team in the last race of the double header weekend in Montreal. All season long there was wheel to wheel racing with actual passes and a few dramatic crashes (everything turned out ok with drivers). One of the best examples is Di Grassi coming from last place in Mexico City to win the race. Not to mention the massive attrition of cars at the Paris ePrix. Here’s some more great crashes and overtakes from Formula E season 3.

The eRaces!

eSports are on the verge of blowing up as broadcasters like Twitch pop up and major brands begin to get involved with reaching the next generation racer and racing fan. Formula E has done a brilliant job of incorporating the next generation of racing. Beginning at Long Beach season 2, powerful racing simulators were set up in the eVillage. Fans got the opportunity to “run the track” in a sim of the course for that race weekend. Then the gaming got even better and an e-race was put together at CES in Las Vegas in January. There, in Vegas, actual Formula E drivers (Rosenquist, Bird, Di Grassi, etc.) raced against the best-of-the-best top 10 racing sim drivers. The sim drivers went through an esport racing competition to narrow the crowd of entries and the 10 finalist got the opportunity to compete in the VISA Vegas eRace. Bono Huis, an elite sim racer, won the overall race with Felix Rosenqvist, an actual (irl) Formula E driver (Mahindra Racing), finishing a close second. Then, the remainder of the season, sim racing was incorporated into each race eVillage on the schedule. And, as a bonus, Formula E partnered with Real Racing 3 to bring in game app coverage of aspects of the FE race weekend. An added bonus was that fans were able to run FE cars on some street courses via the game. This is one of my personal “love” aspects of this season.

Introduction of the Super Fan!

Formula E Super Fan Stephen Harvey

This is an amazing fan experience introduced at the Berlin ePrix double header weekend. The new Super Fan (hopefully) tradition was continued at the NYCePrix. One fan was chosen at each race event and given the VIP Formula E behind the scenes treatment. With the crescendo fan moment being on the podium and giving away a trophy to one of the top 3 finishers. This immersion in the Formula E culture is great for making fans feel a part of the event, and feel like the racing stars we follow. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the New York City ePrix Super fan and it will certainly go down as a once in a life time experience for me.

Innovation Around Sustainable Mobility!

Every season the battery technology involved with the cars in improved. The race distances the cars can go have increased. Currently, drivers change cars mid-race because of battery power. However, soon that need will be eliminated and no car change will be required. This is not to mention the fuel that runs the generators that charge all the Formula E car batteries is glycerin. That is a bio-fuel that can actually be consumed by humans.

I got a chance to taste it. My impression was that it is similar in consistency and taste to Karo syrup. Then there is Michelin. The Michelin tires that are on every FE race car are 18 inch, grooved tires similar to what is seen on an average road car. Michelin claims that innovations developed at the beginning of the FE season are likely to be implemented in street tire production by the end of the FE season. There are lots of innovations in Formula E that directly transfer and benefit people in the real world.

Formula E will look back and say that season 3 was the pivotal time for the series. Major manufacturers have jumped on board along with innovative and awe inspiring race experiences. Constant innovation in race technology with batteries and tires coupled with excellent fan experiences like the Super Fan are sure to bring longevity to this budding series. Look for more amazing things to come from Formula E in season 4!

As always, please leave any thoughts or input regarding this article in the COMMENTS section below. Thoughtful and intelligent commentary is always appreciated.

Formula E New York City #NYCePrix

Formula E Super Fan Stephen Harvey
The FIA Formula E New York City ePrix was amazing! And, it made me a happy motorsports fan to attend such a great race weekend in the Big Apple. I flew from Long Beach, California to New York for the inaugural NYCePrix double header weekend.

That’s right! I live in California and have followed Formula E since the all electric series was announced over 4 years ago. The Long Beach ePrix brought me great joy for 2 years. I volunteered both years in the eVillage so I could be closer to the action. It granted me the chance to talk with other people about how great FE is and what it is going to do for everyday vehicles. Seeing the latest in electric mobility and what is just around the corner regarding all aspects of driving made me an instant fan of Formula E.

Granted, when the season 3 schedule was published I was quite disappointed that Long Beach was nixed from the calendar. But, instead of bitching, I bought a plane ticket, made hotel reservations, and planned what to do on a long weekend in New York City. And, now that I’m back in LA, I have to say wholeheartedly that it was worth every penny and second I invested.

Back story… I was fortunate enough due to my online musings and constant social media posting to be invited by DHL Americas to attend the Friday press conference and pit lane walk at the Long Beach ePrix both years. They must have liked the online attention I brought to DHL because I got the invite to attend the Friday events in New York. It is such a privilege to meet, shake hands, get pics with, and hear from the people that make Formula E great.

A personal highlight on Friday for me was not meeting a particular person, but getting to see the DHL #effibot live and in action on the pit lane. The four wheeled cargo wonder just follows you around with stuff. It was really amazing to see.

And here’s a shot of me and Sam Bird (DS Virgin RE Team) as he was leaving the FIA tech station. Little did either of us know that Sam would win BOTH of the NYC double header weekend races and we’d both be on the podium stage at the end of Saturday’s race.

Great to get a pic with the winner of both #NYCePrix races, the talented Sam Bird from the DS Virgin FE team.

Posted by Stephen Harvey on Friday, July 14, 2017

And another celeb-fanboy shot. This time with super talented sports announcer Nicki Shields.

Friday at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was a good day. But, nothing like what Saturday turned into…

Yes, the entire race was held at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It was off the beaten tourist path and transportation was a bit tricky, but all went well. Formula E ran shuttles (more like full size coaches) from the Barclay’s Center and it made getting there and back relatively easy. There were quite a few local eateries and drinking establishments close by too that helped to pass the time after the race on Sunday. All in all the location felt quite nice and I enjoyed the experience.

Back to Saturday’s event… I mentioned supporting and helping Formula E when they were in Long Beach and that continued on with social media posts and blogging about the New York event too. My efforts did not go unnoticed. I can honestly say that because I was contacted by Formula E staff via Instagram message on Saturday. A phone call happened shortly after the IG message.

The phone conversation was brief but went like this…

Formula E: Hello Stephen, this is Formula E.
Me: Hey, how are you?
Formula E: Are you sitting down? We have a little surprise for you.
Me: Oh really, what is it?
Formula E: We would like to say thanks to you for being a Super Fan. And, want you to present one of the trophies to a driver on the podium today. Is that alright?
Me: <drops phone, begins to tear up, goes speechless for a few seconds, regains composure slightly>
Me: <broken voice> Thank you so much. You don’t know how special this is… of course… what do I need to do.
Formula E: We’ll get back in touch. Stay where you are for now.

Well that brief conversation made me the happiest motorsport fan ever! I saw the Super Fan in Berlin and how ecstatic he was on the podium never thinking that it would be me next. Being picked as the NYCePrix Formula E Super Fan is one of the biggest honors of my life thus far. It’s an experience I will always remember and cherish.

I was fortunate enough to have my better-half right there too! She got the Saturday race podium ceremony video’ed. Take a look and see the perma-grin on my face the entire time. Oh, and did I mention that I was up there next to Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame.

Formula E Super Fan, Stephen Harvey, presents 3rd place trophy to Stephane Sarrazin of the TECHEETAH FE Team.

All-in-all Formula E is growing in size, popularity, and overall fan experience. The series will continue to grow as electric vehicles take further hold in our everyday commuting lives. I am pleased to be a part of such an innovative racing series that is conducted by a fantastic team of individuals dedicated to the success of the budding all electric race series.

I can honestly say the people in the next picture are a driving force behind the success of Formula E. They are part of the talented team that produces awesome electric racing events that thrill audiences. I can’t thank them enough for my fantastic NYCePrix experience.

Formula E has a dedicated fan in me and I will travel to see and be a part of everything involved with it. I encourage any race fan to do the same. Start exploring here: FIA Formula E and get hooked like I have on FE.