MetroSports Magazine Remembering A.J. Pugliese Electric Auto Racing on the Brooklyn Waterfront
IMSA Northeast Grand Prix
Racingâ€™s Next Generation
4 Remembering AJ Pugliese Motorsports journalist John Chuhran remembers FRCCA founder A.J. Pugliese 12 Electric Auto Racing Returns to Brooklyn Formula Eâ€™s NYC ePrix and Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy racing on the Brooklyn Waterfront 20 A Busy Northeast July for Katherine Legge Weekend races in Brooklyn and CT 22 2019 IMSA Northeast Grand Prix Sportscar racing at Limerock Park. 28 Kristina Esposito Local teen pursues her dream in competitive auto racing
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Remembering A.J. Pugliese; A Man Whose Dream Endures By John Chuhran
ports provides a chance for people to live their dreams. Most who choose to test themselves in athletic competition do so with the knowledge that they are pushing themselves to do the best they can. If they have the talent and work hard to build their strength, endurance, judgment and mental toughness to improve, perhaps they will eventually rise to be among the very best to play the game. But regardless of their eventual level of success, they will have the satisfaction of knowing they gave their all and did their best in pursuit of excellence.
That attitude is embraced by thousands who choose to test themselves in the vast spectrum of sports. Still, there has to be an opportunity to try if there is to be a chance to live those dreams. A half century ago, A.J. “Buddy” Pugliese saw an opportunity to live his sports dream and for several years he pursued it with great intensity. But his chosen sport -- auto racing -- was arguably the most expensive of all and, as a simple working man, he knew that he really had no chance to rise to the top. Then he had a epiphany. He could help others live their racing dreams and just maybe they could rise to a level that he could not reach. A.J. Pugliese would help to make speed dreams a reality for others. For four decades, Pugliese worked tirelessly to build a “dream factory” that enabled aspiring racers to “start their engines” and try their hand at motorsports. But cancer stopped him in May 13. He was 75. A tribute to this visionary was scheduled for New Jersey Motorsports Park where the A.J. Pugliese Memorial race weekend was held on August 3-4. Born and raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., Pugliese was a large man who became a baseball star at New
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Rochelle High and then one of the top softball players in all of Westchester County. He became interested in working on cars and spent a brief period working at the former General Motors assembly plant in Tarrytown, N.Y., but soon realized that the rigid structure of a big corporation was not for him. He built a successful business -- Top Hat Towing -that is still remembered as a trendsetter, one of the first with a fleet of radio-dispatched tow trucks that helped stranded motorists throughout the New York City metropolitan area. Hot rods were something he came to appreciate and he learned the mechanical subtleties that made these customized machines special. The customized aspect, the idea that each of these cars had something unique that made it better than anything else out there, was particularly ap-pealing to Pugliese. He built his own hot rods and became a major chal-
lenger in late-night, illegal, street drag racing.
Then he saw the picture of a little, single-seat, rearengined race car in a magazine and it was love at first sight. It was the mid 1960s and Pugliese was fascinated
reading about how these little cars were competing on equal footing with the bigger, more powerful front-engined racers at the biggest race of them all, the Indianapolis 500. At a time when magazine coverage and the occasional TV broadcast were the only ways to follow major races, he became obsessed with the International Formula 1 series where the rearengined concept was first successfully developed. Chance helped him to see these most sophisticated racers in person. Then as now, Formula 1 raced only once a year in the United States, but in the 1960s the one American track on the tour was at Watkins Glen in upstate New York. Pugliese made a pilgrimage to the U.S. Grand Prix and his passion increased. He spoke with some race officials and the next year he brought some friends and two of his tow trucks to be part of the safety crew that recovered wrecked or broken race cars from the track. This continued for a couple of years until another bit of good fortune influenced Puglieseâ€™s life. The popularity of racing was growing and many other people around the world wanted to compete behind the wheel. But cars were expansive and races were few. In England, where most of the Formula 1 teams were based, there was a large following for the sport and many racing schools for those who wanted to try these exotic looking racers.
The owner of one of the schools, Geoff Clarke, and the manager of a track where the school was based, John Webb, were talking and thought that there would be a market for a series of races for single-seaters that primarily used readily available, inexpensive production car parts mated to a custom, tube-frame chassis. The duo approached officials at Ford of England, a deal was struck to purchased a batch of 1,600 cc, four-cylinder engines, gearboxes and other related parts and for 1968 Formula Ford was an official amateur class in Britain. Formula Ford quickly grew in popularity and by 1971 the concept had been adopted by the premier amateur road racing series in the U.S., the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Pugliese heard about Formula Ford and by 1976 the hot rod was sold and he was living his dream as a race driver. Formula Ford quickly grew in popularity and by 1971 the concept had been adopted by the premier amateur road racing series in the U.S., the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Pugliese heard about Formula Ford and by 1976 the hot rod was sold and he was living his dream as a race driver. But money was already rearing its ugly head. With most Formula Ford components unregulated, richer
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competitors were soon dominating the class by buying new cars every year and new components for every race. Pugliese had limited funds and was racing a used car that left him consistently battling in the midfield. He was frustrated because he knew in his heart that he could race with leaders if only he had better equipment. The biggest cost per race was tires. New sets were fastest, but they only lasted 20 laps or less before their advantage was gone. But the rich could af-ford new tires for every practice, qualifying run and race, so they usually started and finished up front.
After a practice session at the now-closed Bridgehampton Race Circuit on Long Island in 1979, Pugliese noticed a wealthy competitor was directing a crew member to install a new set of tires for the race. He asked the other driver if he could have his old tires and within minutes Pugliese, working alone, was busy mounting this old rubber -- still newer than the even older tires he had previously used -- on his car. Starting near the middle of a field of more than 30 cars, Pugliese was stunned to discover that his car had been transformed. Suddenly it stuck to the pavement and he was able to pass rivals almost at will. By the end of the 16-lap race, he had finished third and set a
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new track record at the 2.85-mile, 12-turn course that was widely regarded as the most difficult challenge in American road racing.
“I knew then that my hunch was right,” Pugliese said
in 1986. “I knew that I was a pretty good driver and that I could run with anybody if I had the money to buy things like new tires all the time. That got me angry, because I didn’t have the money and I knew that I was probably not going to get any free used tires anymore.” Pugliese had also read about a new class of racing -- Club Ford -- that was growing England. Club Ford took the basic Formula Ford rules and limited modifications to keep costs under control. When he approached the regional SCCA office about adding Club Ford as a new class, he was told flatly “no, the race-day schedules are already too crowded with different classes of sports cars. We’re not adding another class.” Pugliese’s frustration and dissatisfaction grew. “The whole concept of Formula Ford was getting out of hand,” he said. “Formula Ford was supposed to be a beginning series in Formula car racing. That idea was being forgotten by the people who set the rules, and it has gotten worse since then. Today a competitive new chassis costs more than $20,000. By the time you get it ready to race and add other necessary equipment, like a trailer and some spare parts, you’re looking at a $30,000 investment. As an ‘entry level series,’ Formula Ford became a joke.” With the idea of Club Ford as his only resource, Pugliese and five interested friends decided to try to create a set of Club Ford rules that would enable older Formula Fords to race competitively. And, to make sure they had a place to race, they formed the Race Car Club of America (renamed Formula Race Car Club of America two decades ago to more accurately distinguish it from stock car racing, which dominated media coverage of racing in the 1990s) in 1980 and established their own race schedule. Pugliese became the President and Chief Executive Officer for the organization, which adopted the mottto
“enjoy the thrill of racing without the agony of expense.” RCCA rules tried to minimize the effect of the car in the racing equation. Recognizing the importance of reducing tire costs, Pugliese worked with Hoosier Tires (now replaced by American Racer Tires) to develop a special tire capable of lasting an entire season (all practice sessions and races) and requiring all Club Ford competitors to use it. Incredibly, a full set of these tires now costs just $494 -- cheaper than it did 15 years ago! Few engine modifications are allowed; virtually no internal modifications were permitted to the standard 1.6-liter engine. “Even though a Formula Ford is a true race car in the sense that it was designed as a single-seat racing machine,” said Pugliese, “the cars themselves are mechanically quite simple. Most drivers get by on two engine tune-ups a year, and if you don’t want to do it yourself, a mechanic can do it for about $200. Believe me, a person with very little mechanical ability can easily do the routine maintenance on a Formula Ford.” he RCCA wanted to cultivate driving ability, and that goal ran from conducting the RCCA racing school (for a fraction of the fee charged by other racing schools) to teaching and enforcing professional-style rules to offering winter seminars that will enable anyone to learn the small amount of maintenance that the cars require. That driver training program combined with an enforcement of high driving standards to enable the FRCCA in 1990 to become the first racing organization in America with Insurance company authorization to license 16 year olds. Perhaps the most unique facet of the RCCA is the fact that it has a class of racing strictly for beginners. The Formula Tyro division allows new drivers to concentrate on developing driving skills rather than watching their rearview mirrors. Since holding its first race in 1980, the RCCA now has a division for every style of Formula car from Formula Vee (as in Volkswagen) to Formula Libre (a “free Formula” for any exposed-wheel racer). The RCCA’s “reasonable cost” approach found a market. Over the last 40 years, nearly 1,000 drivers ranging in
age from 16 to 68 and hailing from throughout the Northeast have participated in FRCCA competition. Since holding its first race in 1980, the RCCA now has a division for every style of Formula car from Formula Vee (as in Volkswagen) to Formula Libre (a “free Formula” for any exposed-wheel racer). The RCCA’s “reasonable cost” approach found a market. Over the last 40 years, nearly 1,000 drivers ranging in age from 16 to 68 and hailing from throughout the Northeast have participated in FRCCA competition. “The concept of affordable, safe and competitive Formula car racing has universal appeal,” Pugliese said. “Race fans watch races on TV and dream about racing in the Indy 500 or the Monaco Grand Prix. With the RCCA, most people can finally experience Formula car racing from the behind the wheel. Pugliese was keen to make sure that drivers could develop as much of their talent as possible, so he tried to schedule races on as many different tracks as possible. Besides such traditional road courses (tracks with right and left turns that follow the contours of the countryside to simulate “road” conditions) as Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania and Watkins Glen International in upstate New York, for many years the RCCA also raced on
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ovals; Mountain Speedway in Pa., Thompson Speedway in Conn. and Flemington Speedway in N.J. all hosted RCCA events through the years. “A lot of road racers turn up their noses at ovals,” Pugliese said, “and, quite frankly, they don’t know what they’re missing. Running on an oval teaches a driver different skills than he might learn on a road course, and these things help develop a better overall driver who has more well rounded skills. And no matter where the RCCA competes, we have only seven classes of cars racing -- not 20 or 30 -- and track time, regardless of the track, is what makes a better driver. “It’s very satisfying to see somebody get to race his own race car and watch him improve through the years. I always said that my biggest thrill will come when I get to see an RCCA graduate start the Indy 500. I never got to it [race at Indy], but when that happens it will be just like I did. it It hasn’t happened yet, but I know it will [eventually].” Eventually, the oval tracks fell from the schedule as costly repairs from collisions (in road races, walls are often set back from the track, so repair costs are less) and rising track rental fees made it financially impractical to keep them as race venues in the series. Past and present FRCCA members are truly appreciative of Pugliese’s vision for the organization and his longstanding commitment to helping it be the best organization in racing. “The RCCA is a great organization that helps a person like me fulfill a dream,” said Doug Sena, a Yonkers resident who ran with the RCCA for several years. “It’s hard to believe that there is company out there that is not purely profit motivated, but Buddy and the RCCA go out of their way to make racing available and affordable to anybody. My only complaint is that they want the racing to be equal and they want money to stay out of the mix, so they keep requiring a lot of older technology; trying to find replacement parts for an engine or a chassis that is 15 or 20 years old can be tough. But the racing is a lot of fun and (it’s) the closest I’ve seen in any amateur series.” “Racing with the RCCA has always been a lot of fun,” said Art Breuer, a resident of Chappaqua who competed with the RCCA for more than a decade. “I think the best
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part of the club is the incredibly supportive attitude of all the participants. On the track, everyone races hard, but if somebody has a mechanical problem or needs to make repairs after an accident, everyone comes to help. Your greatest rival on the track sometimes turns out to be the guy who works the hardest to help you get repaired so you can start the main race (of the day). I don’t know any other club with that attitude.” “The RCCA really is a family where everybody has a great time,” said Kieran Curley, an electrician from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. “I joined the RCCA as a corner marshal more than 25 years ago before I could afford a (race) car and the drivers were the most appreciative people you ever met. I couldn’t believe it – I was a new guy just learning what I was doing and everybody was so nice. That continued after I got my race car and I made sure that I continued that tradition. And (serving as a volunteer track worker) was a lot of fun – I was as close to the track as a driver and I had the best seat in the house. Speaking as a driver, the RCCA is the best (series to race with) because you get more track time than any other club.” “I never thought I’d be able to do this,” said Jeff Zeller, a resident of Suffern, N.Y. who started as the 2002 Formula Tyro division runner-up and is now the club treasurer. “But the RCCA makes racing available for the average guy. And the club members a great group of people – they’re all willing to lend a hand and everyone races hard but safely; we know we’ve all got to go to work on Monday. And that whole attitude filtered down from A.J. He made sure that the FRCCA didn’t become cutthroat and kept the race days fun.” “There is a real sense of family with the RCCA,” said Dominick Vitale of Haverstraw. “I bring my family to the races and my (10-year-old) son Patrick is my biggest helper and everyone knows him and treats him as an equal. There are lots of kids at RCCA events and there’s just a real family atmosphere – there’s usually a picnic or barbeque at the end of each race day where everybody can kid around or tell a story or two. It’s unlike anything else in racing.” “I’m not going to say that racing is easy,” said Chuck Napoli of Chappaqua, a past RCCA division champion.”It isn’t. But Buddy and the RCCA was always there to answer questions about (preparing and adjusting) the (race) car. You get so much track time (with the RCCA) that
it’s the equivalent of two or three seasons of racing with other organizations. You get the chance to develop your skills as a driver, to learn how to make the car work (better) at different tracks (with different characteristics). I’ve gained much more experience with the RCCA than I would have with any other organization, and I know I’m a better driver because of it. The RCCA has helped me live out a fantasy and I know I never would have had that chance without them.” By the 1990s, Pugliese knew the RCCA was facing a challenge. With the number of available Club Fords remaining relatively constant because fewer drivers purchased expensive new Formula Fords through the years, the RCCA currently reached a point where there were more aspiring drivers than available cars. Pugliese took his knowledge and created a new brand of race car – Banshee Engineering – that was competitive with existing Club Fords. In race-ready form for $12,995, the Banshee provided a new alternative for drivers looking to buy a car and race it. “We’ve worked hard to make sure that the Banshee performs equally with existing Club Fords,” said Pugliese, who owned and operated Formula Haus, a race-car prep shop that also built Banshees until his death. “The advantage a Banshee provides is that because it is new, parts tend to last longer and, when they do need to be replaced, it is easier and cheaper to get them. It can be difficult and expensive to get replacement parts for a 12-year-old British race car that the guys down at NAPA [auto parts store] or R&S Strauss never heard of.” As he got older, Pugliese slowed down a little and in 2008 he decided that he would be most effective if he focused on building Banshees and conducted race tune-ups for others, so he sold the FRCCA to one of the members. His greatest pleasure with the FRCCA was handing out the trophies at the annual awards banquet, but he knew that the time had come to pass the torch. Long-time driver Andy Graham, who joined the FRCCA in 1995, is president now and he knows what Pugliese meant to the organization. “A.J. was everything for the FRCCA for 25 years,” Graham said. “And what he started, we’re still doing. He changed everything with what he wrote down in his rulebook. The FRCCA is still his club, really. He really did
help others to live their dreams -- I know he did that for me. I don’t think I would have gotten involved [as a driver and car owner] without the FRCCA. I never felt the need to race anywhere else but the FRCCA. “The rules were right for me -- the spec tires that last a whole year and the limited engine modifications made it work for me and for others. The rules are very simple and they’re designed to make sure that the driver with the most money doesn’t have a massive advantage. “I so respect everything A.J. did because everything he did was to keep the club running. He was down to his last dime on more than one occasion since I joined in 1995 and I know he did everything to keep the club going. And when he was down, he always had his engineering skills and could build something to sell to make some cash. He was an amazing guy who was totally committed to keeping the FRCCA alive. “The FRCCA really is still a fun and familly-oriented organization. We’ve got several shared driving teams -- one involves a father and son, another is an uncle and a nephew and another involves some close friends. A.J. started that philosophy and we try to keep it that way. It’s important that everyone keeps that in mind. I feel a bit sad that we can’t have some [novelty] events that involve odd competitions, like adding a pit stop competition, and more social activities, but we keep things going on a part-time basis and we do best we can. But we don’t want to forget A.J.’s spirit for making things fun and we intend to continue with an event named the A.J. Pugliese Memorial Race Weekend as an annual event just to remind everybody about him. I miss him every day -- if I had a question about Formula cars, he always had the answer.”
“30 plus years ago, the man put me on a path in life that I couldn’t imagine I would get to live and continue to do. Without his vision of an affordable racing series, there was no way as a 20 year old kid working as a mechanic that I would have been able to live the dream of driving racecars. I owe more to that man than I could ever put into words. To a great mentor and friend, Godspeed Buddy.”
Stonebridge Sports & Classics Ltd
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So, we remember A.J. Pugliese, a man who lived his dream and -- at least as importantly -- helped others to live theirs. And when that first FRCCA graduate starts in the Indy 500, there will certainly be someone smiling from above. If you want to â€œfeed your need for speedâ€? and learn more about the Formula Race Car Club of America, contact Andy Graham (FRCCA president) at 201-665-8682 or Jeff Zeller (FRCCA treasurer) at 914584-0132. The website is www. formularacecarclubofamerica. com and email can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRCCA Tech Inspection Line
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Electric Auto Racing Returns to Brooklyn
Third NYC E-Prix is Best Yet
By John Chuhran Though Frank Sinatra is probably best known in the metropolitan area for his legendary rendition of “New York, New York,” there are lyrics in another one of his standards, “The Best is Yet to Come,” that perfectly fit the third annual New York City E-Prix:
“The best is yet to come And, babe, won’t it be fine” Just as an August heat wave swept into New York City, the international Formula E auto racing series for electric race cars came to The Big Apple for the 2019 series finale. After two days of racing, it was clear that the series had changed for the better. 12 | July-August 2019
This year, Formula E featured a new, second-generation car that incorporated a new, more powerful and longer lasting electric battery -- eliminating the absurd sight of drivers stopping midway through the races to jump out of one car and into a new one with a fresh battery. For 2019, there would be no scheduled pit stops, though the race distances were shortened to 45 minutes plus one lap. The new battery produces 250 kW of power (equal to 335 bhp) and can accelerate from zero to 100 kph (62 mph) in 2.8 seconds. Top speed is 280 kilometers per hour (174 mph), though the short straights in Brooklyn prevented the cars from reaching even 150 mph. Photo Above: Jean-EricVergne in the #25 DS Automobiles Techeetah on his way to winning the 2019 FIA Formula E series championship. Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg MetroSports Magazine | 13
The standardized, new Gen-2 chassis is a unique design that clearly created a unique visual appearance that could not be mistaken for either a Formula 1 car or an Indy car. And it was purposely designed to provide minimal aerodynamic downforce so that the drivers had to manage tire wear while still maximizing performance -- a situation that gave race fans the now-rare sight of cars actually “drifting” on a paved track as those behind the wheel balanced these machines on the edge of control. Sadly, some of the innovative aspects are now restricted as the number of engines in each car was limited to one (previously, the only limits had been the creativity of the engine designers; different engines for each wheel had be tried). But the overall package produced close competition on the 1.474-mile, 14-turn temporary track that was slightly wider than in the past but was still laid out on the grounds of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (just few hundred yards from the location where from scenes were filmed for “On the Town” -- the MGM musical featuring Sintara and Gene Kelly as sailors on 48 hours leave from a ship in port at the Brooklyn Navy Yard) overlooking the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan.
For the third straight year, Formula E ended its season with a double-header weekend featuring separate races along the New York waterfront on Saturday and Sunday. While Formula E continued with an aggressive social media program that engaged fans to vote for their favorite drivers; the five with the most votes (by fans watching onsite and around the world on TV) gained extra power for a brief period of time. Additionally, in New York the series also introduced another concept -- Attack Mode -- where drivers can choose to race through a designated portion of the track that is off the racing line and gain an extra 10 percent boost in power for four minutes. Drivers can activate Attack Mode three times per race. Eight drivers were still in contention for the championship: defending title holder Jean-Eric Vergne (130 points), Lucas di Grassi (98), Mitch Evans (87), Andre Lotterrer (86), Antonio Felix da Costa (82), Robin Frijns (81), Sebastien Buemi (76), and Daniel Abt (75).
Above: Unveiling of the FIA Formula E Gen 2 car at the 2019 New York International Auto Show. Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg www.nyspg.com
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In Saturday qualifying, Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi won the pole by massive .4 of a second over German Pascal Wherlein with Englishman Alex Lynn taking third for Jaguar ahead of Germany’s Daniel Abt, and another pair of Englishmen, Alexander Sims and Sam Bird, winner of both New York races during the Brooklyn debut appearance of Formula E in 2017. The Saturday race saw Buemi surge into the lead, but he was closely followed by Lynn, who beat Wherlein in the charge to the first corner. Lynn shadowed the leader for 18 laps, waiting for the leader to make a mistake, but that error never happened and, worse, Lynn’s Jaguar rolled to a stop on lap 19 with a failed driveline. A caution period began to enable safety crews to recover Lynn’s car. When the race restarted on lap 24, Sims, in second, failed in his efforts to snatch the lead from Buemi on the run to the first turn. Abt, in third, tried to grab second from Sims in turn two, but the challenger was forced wide and lost four places. Mitch Evans in the second Jaguar had started 13th and methodically picked off drivers as the race progressed. He sped through to take third when Abt
went wide, and his charge to the front gained second with an aggressive bumping move that knocked Sims wide in turn six on lap 27. Two laps later, he made a mistake at turn six and found himself having to defend against the attack of Antonio Felix da Costa over the final seven laps. After 36 laps, Buemi won from Evans and da Costa. Collisions were the order of the day. On lap two, Bird bumped Jose Maria Lopez into a spin at turn seven. Points leader Vergne plowed into the stationary car and his teammate Andre Lotterrer ran into Vergne, sending both DS TECHEETAH entries to the pits for repairs. Vergne emerged at the back of the pack and, after the lap 24 restart, proceeded to use his Attack Mode power to climb up the standings. As the final lap began, he pulled alongside former Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa in a battle for eighth. The pair bumped and Vergne was sent into the wall as the pack tried to squeeze past. Lotterrer, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jerome d’Ambrosio made heavy contact with the stranded duo, and once Vergne was able to get his damaged machine free he struggled to keep his car under control, finishing out of the points in 15th.
Above: Robin Frijns (#4) of Virgin Racing in hot pursuit of Alexander Sims (#27) of BMW Andretti Motorsport Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg www.nyspg.com
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Vergne strongly voiced his unhappiness at the quality of driving in the race. “The driving standard has been very poor today,” Vergne said. “It seemed like it was a go-kart rental race. So many contacts -- it’s ugly. It’s not single-seaters, not nice racing. Horrible. I saw some guys doing some silly things. Driving standards have been very poor this race. I’m very surprised. When I was back behind, I saw some guys just crashing into the guys at the hairpin. I don’t understand what happened today -- it was mad.” After Saturday’s race, Di Grassi (fifth place) had 108 points, followed by Evans (second) at 105, and Buemi (winner) at 104. These three were now mathematically the only drivers in position to take the crown from Vergne. Lotterrer, Frijns, da Costa and Abt had been eliminated from title contention. By the time Sunday qualifying had ended, there were only three contenders. Buemi needed to win the pole and the three bonus points associated with it to keep his hopes alive. He could only manage the third best time as Sims was quickest from Frijns. Evans qualified eighth, di Grassi was 11th and Vergne, in his repaired car, was 13th to set the stage for the race that would decide the championship. Sunday’s 36-lap finale began with Buemi dashing into the lead followed by Sims, who forced his way into the lead in turn two. Frijns used Attack Mode to grab second from Buemi with an inside pass entering turn one on lap 9. Seven laps later, the Dutchman used the same maneuver at the same location to take the lead from Sims. Frijns held on to the top spot the rest of the way. Evans and di Grassi both needed to win the race to claim the championship, but they could only climb to fifth and sixth, respectively, from eighth and 11th on the grid. On the final lap, they collided as they raced side-by-side into turn 11. They both restarted their crumpled machines, but finished out of the points in 16ht and 17th. 16 | July-August 2019
Vergne drove a strategic race but he focused on passing opponents at the start and then picking off rivals one at a time. He grabbed seventh at the end and clinched the championship, becoming the first two-time titlest and first to successfully defend the championship in the six-year history of Formula E. “I think it took 10 years off my life, this weekend,” Vergne said. “It was very stressful. Starting in the middle of the pack, I had to be aggressive at the start and take some risks, but it paid off. Then I was just managing the situation. So many emotions run in my body right now. I feel very, very proud to be in this team. They’ve been fantastic to me this year and I am so happy to have won it (the title) again.” While the racing was better than in past years, there was still room for improvement. Race lengths of 45 minutes were still too short, but the energy capacity of the batteries continues to improve and it is hoped that race distances will be extended in the future as more energy becomes available. However, the series officials have an appreciation for the fact that races can be broadcast in one-hour TV window, which caters to the evolving viewing preference for shorter events by a younger generation with shorter attention spans. So, race lengths may yet stay short. Though the series touts the reduction in sound as a good change (and it undoubtedly is for local residents who are not race fans), traditional fans are deprived of a significant part of the racing experience without the roar of an internal combustion racing engine. And new fans have no idea that the Formula E experience is different from other forms of racing. Sound, smell, sight and feel are all parts of the visceral impact that racing has had on its followers for more than a century. With Formula E, there is no smell of racing fuel, no rumble to be felt as the powerful chariots blast past, and no sound other than the squeal of tires fighting for grip and a subdued, high pitched whine (similar to what might be heard in high-speed elevators in tall skyscrapers) of an electric motor. Only the sight of Formula E racing can
Above: Oliver Rowland in the #22 Nissan e.dams. Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg
be impressive, but that is limited by the shape of the course, which is dictated by the land that is available to construct the track. For those more familiar with the traditional forms of fossil-fueled racing, Formula E may seem to be a sanitized -- some might call it â€œemasculatedâ€? -- version of motorsports. To watch a Formula E race is very similar to watching a race on television with the sound off -- it is better than nothing, but it cannot compare to actually being there in person. The problem is you are there in person and you know there is something missing. It all combines to leave an observer feeling close to an event that really is very different than what it appears to be.
But the organizers of Formula E are shrewd. They recognize the unconventional nature of their events and they try to attract new fans to their version of motorsports. Despite high heat and humidity, the crowds this year were bigger than in the first two years -- in the range of 15,000 attendees per day. And there were a wide variety of things to do beyond sitting and watching the races. Food vendors, entertainers (singers and musicians, unicyclists, bicyclists, etc.), cooling stations (with refreshing mists of cool water), and product displays (Harley Davidson motorcycles was just outside the official track entrance with a guerilla marketing MetroSports Magazine | 17
Above: Members of the King Charles Unicycle Troup performing at the FIA NYC ePrix. Photo Credit - Warren Rosenberg
demonstration of -- gasp -- its electric motorcycle (without the rumble of traditional, flower-pot pistons), while Audi and Jaguar -- which provided support races for the weekend with race-modified electric iPace sedans to demonstrate that electric vehicle technical technology for the public is here now and evolving) -- gave product demonstrations on the public streets just beyond the edge of the track) all had groups of spectators interested in what was being sold, given away and displayed. 18 | July-August 2019
There was a definite feel of a street fair to the event, though a small, unscientific, random sampling of spectators resulted in almost none knowing the names of any of the Formula E drivers (not surprising, given that there were no American drivers) or the teams. Formula E didnâ€™t help by making it difficult for fans to follow the race standings with a lack of leader boards, though a Diamond Vision-style screen near the main grandstand was beneficial.
But those experiencing the NYC E-Prix were there because it was a new, different and fun thing to do (though few called it “exciting”). And with tickets costing as little as $12, attendees could see a full day of live entertainment for a price that was cheaper than a movie. Next year, Formula E will return to Brooklyn, though it will no longer have the honor of hosting the series finale. That distinction will go to London as Formula E continues to bring its unique form of racing to inner cities around the world. In 2020, we will see if “the best is yet to come” for Formula E in the City That Never Sleeps.
Above: Coyote and Crow, husband and wife duo, performing at the 2019 FIA NYC ePrix. Photo Credit - Warren Rosenberg
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Facing Page: Katherine Legge driving the #3 Jaguar I-PACE all electric car in the eTrophy support race of the 2019 FIA NYC ePrix (Above) and, one week later, driving the #12 Acura NSX-GT sports car in the IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Championship at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut (Below). Photo Credits: Warren Rosenberg
A Busy Northeast July for Katherine Legge Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy Race in Brooklyn IMSA WeatherTech Championship in Connecticut
The Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy series consisted of a 10 race circuit of all-electric powered vehicles with events held in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, China, Italy, France, Monaco, Germany and culminating with two races in New York City run as support events for the FIA Formula E Championship series and, here, the FIA’s NYC ePrix. It is the first auto racing series based off of street-legal, zero-emission battery powered production cars. In the first race of the series, Brirish born and now Atlanta-based driver, Katherine Legge, posted the fastest lap and won the pole position for the second race in Mexico City. In the Mexico City race, she finished first among the pro drivers becoming the first female driver to win a professional electric car race, doin so for the Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing team. Upon capturing this win Legge said,”I was able to get my first career Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY pole which was another highlight as well as leading from start to finish although Bryan put on a lot of pressure from behind.” Bryan is Bryan Sellers, driver of a second Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan car. Sellers, commenting on Legge’s win, said, “I’m so happy with how today turned out. Katherine showed what we are capable of.” Legge’s win in Mexico City followed a pervious win at Laguna Seca on September 9 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driving for Meyer Shank Racing. One week after her New York City I-PACE performance, Katherine was back in the Meyer Shank IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car at nearby Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, an event covered in our next article. We asked Katherine about the challenge of racing wto very different vehicles on two very different race tracks only one week apart. As would be expected from a seasoned veteran, Katherine told MetroSports Magazine that, “I have raced a lot of different cars from open wheel to electric to Nascar. At the end of the day is still a car and you adapt. The noise provides an extra sensory and driving on purpose built race tracks is also very different to downtown streets. I like both cars! I’ve always been one of very few female drivers, but I just see myself as a race car driver... The car doesn’t know the difference.” MetroSports Magazine | 21
Great, Traditional Au During IMSA Nort
Layout of Lime Rock Park Produce By John Chuhran
Above: Acura NSXGT driven by the team of Katherine Legge and Christina Neilsen Photo Credit - Warren Rosenberg
Just five days after the NYC E-Prix, a more traditional form of auto racing was held at a more traditional venue located barely 100 miles away as the IMSA Northeast Grand Prix was conducted at Lime Rock Park (LRP). Located just a stoneâ€™s throw from the point where New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts meet, LRP is the closest major motorsports facility to the Big 22 | July-August 2019
uto Racing Displayed theast Grand Prix
es Close Racing, Exciting Finishes
The seven-turn, 1.5-mile track nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires is one of the nationâ€™s oldest permanent road courses (a track that features right and left turns and follows the contours of the countryside to simulate actual â€œroadâ€? conditions). Built in a park-like setting with trees and grass covering most of the property, LRP gave fans a cool treat as beach chairs and picnic blankets covered the hills that provided fans with a unique opportunity to see three-quarters of each lap -- an unprecedented view in road racing. MetroSports Magazine | 23
At the Lime Rock weekend, the Grand Touring classes were the headliners. The faster of the GT classes -- the GT LeMans class -- dominated the time trials and featured a sports car fanâ€™s dream battle: two Porsche 911 RSR, two Ford GTs, two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs and two BMW M8 GTEs. And the GT Daytona class had 13 entries featuring other famous brands of sports cars including Lexus, Audi, Mercedes, Acura, Lamborgini, Ferrari, and McLaren as well as different entries from Porsche and BMW. In Friday time trials, held in brilliant sunshine as temperatures topped 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the Porsches were quickest as Laurens Vanthoor of Germany toured the 1.5 miles in 49.133 seconds, just 0.052 of a second ahead of Englishman Nick Tandy in a twin machine from Stuttgart.
Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg
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Connor De Phillippi shocked many attendees by posting the third quickest time in a BMW M8 ahead of Dirk Muller in the top Ford GT. Row three belonged to the Corvettes of Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin while Ryan Briscoe in the other Ford GT and John Edwards in the other BMW rounded out row four. The GT Daytona class saw Trent Hindman log the fastest time in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX to edge Ben Keating in the Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 by 0.026sec. A 21-car field took the green flag for the 2:40 race the next day as temperatures climbed to 97 deg F. The top eight starters held station as they tried to conserve their equipment and stretch their mileage. On Lap 39, Muller took third from De Phillippi as the Porsches built a 7-second lead.
Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg
The first round of pit stops began on Lap 40 as Edwards brought the other BMW into the pits as Briscoe in the other Ford GT followed suit. Both Corvettes made driver swaps during their pit stops, enabling Briscoe to move up to fifth. Vanthoor surrendered the lead when he pitted on Lap 50 and gave up the wheel to Earl Bamber. A lap later, Tandy brought the other Porsche in for service and a driver change. The Porsche crew worked quickly and new driver Patrick Pilet emerged just in front of Bamber with New Zealander Briscoe less than five seconds back. Bamber grabbed the lead from Pilet a lap later. Muller in the other Ford GT was the last of the GT LeMans entries to stop and he vacated the cockpit for American Joey Hand, who fell to seventh but immediately began to reel in the leaders. He passed both Corvettes by Lap 75 and then focused on fourth-place Tom Blomqvistâ€™s BMW, which the Ford passed on Lap 83.
Now it was two-make battle: Porsche-PorscheFord-Ford. On Lap 92, Briscoe gave up third when he stopped for service and handed over the wheel to Englishman Richard Westbrook, who used his fresh tires to close to the tail of the lead Porsches. On Lap 111, Pilet drifted high through the grass at Turn 1 (a 180-degree right hander affectionately known as Big Bend), enabling Westbrook to move up to second. Pilet and Hand in the second Ford pitted a lap later as Westbrook put his Ford into the lead. Bamber, relegated to second, pitted and returned to the track just behind Pilet and just in front of Hand.
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Lapped traffic in the form of Marcel Fassler in one of the Corvettes then created a traffic jam -Pilet couldn’t pass Fassler, Bamber couldn’t pass Pilet, and Hand could only be patient and wait for an opportunity to try to pass all of them. The logjam enabled Westbrook to build up a lead of 41.6 seconds by the time he pitted. Westbrook returned to the track just behind Pilet, leaving the standings Porsche (Pilet)-Porsche (Bamber)-Ford (Westbrook)-Ford (Hand). Fassler made a mistake and slid through the grass, enabling the four contenders to get through. On Lap 147, Pilet made an error and Bamber regained the lead and pulled out a 2.8-second advantage. As Pilet dealt with more lapped traffic, he was forced wide on Lap 155, enabling both Fords to slip past. The gap between the leader and the pursuing duo fluctuated over the next 15 laps depending upon where they encountered lapped cars. Westbrook kept closing on Bamber only to fall back and then reel him in again. Finally, on lap 170 with just 10 minutes to go, Westbrook was trying left, then right to grab the lead. For five consecutive laps, the Englishman used his fresher tires to bump and nudge his way to the inside of Bamber going around Big Bend only to have to give way around the left hander that followed. But on the sixth attempt, the tires on Porsche could no longer fend off the attack -- Westbrook
26 | July-August 2019
finally could pull alongside in the outside lane as the duo sped through Turn 2 and the Ford went ahead for good with an inside pass through Turn 3. Less than seven minutes later, the checkered flag waved and Westbrook and Briscoe gave the Ford GT its first win of 2019, triumphing by 7.003 seconds. Bamber’s tires were all but out of grip and he barely held off Hand in the second Ford by just 0.523 of a second. “Ryan (Briscoe) made my day a lot easier,” Westbrook said in victory lane. “He did an amazing stint and got all of the hard work out of the way early. We knew we would finish on better tires and the car was just amazing. Sometimes it feels like we’ve got the slowest car on the grid, but we just did everything perfect today -- the three-stop strategy, my teammate’s driving, the pit stops by the crew. I just can’t say enough about Chip Ganassi Racing and this Ford GT. I’ve got my dad here and it’s his first race in America, so that makes it really special.” It might have been the final time that a Ford GT wins a major race. Now in its fourth season of racing, the car will lose factory support at the end of the season. Visually, the car is a clear descendent of the original Ford GT 40 which won its first 24 Hours of LeMans in 1966 and its last four seasons later. The 2019 entry carries the same sky blue with orange trim livery as the 1969 LeMans winner.
In the battle for the GT LeMans season points championship, Vanthoor and Bamber used their second place to double their lead to eight points over Pilet and Tandy. Corvette drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen finished fifth in the race and remain third in points, though they slipped to 17 points behind the leaders. The GT Daytona class was won by Dennis Olsen and Zacharie Robichon in a Porsche 911 GT3R. With less than five minutes to go, Olsen snatched the lead from the Mario Farnbacher-Trent Hindman Acura NSX GT3 and Farnbacher fought tenaciously to the end, finishing just 0.01 of second behind as they swept under the checkers side by side. The crowd of about 35,000 was appreciative. The fans knew the cars, most of the top drivers and were more than willing to discuss the races, the people and the machines at the track with anyone who wanted to talk. To these spectators, it was the racing that mattered and everything else was secondary. They had fun and, like those who attended the NYC E-Prix, they also said they would come back. But they had different reasons. For the traditional racing fan, Lime Rock presented everything a race should -- good weather, great sight lines with lots of passing and excursions off track, distinctive sounds (different for each brand of engine), unique odors, feelings of engine power when the cars were close and they moved by, and a close finish. The row of vendors offered a wide variety of tasty foods, and while there were no other forms of formal entertainment, there was plenty to do if you came prepared; the trackside campsites featured impressive cookouts, multiple bean bag tosses and horseshoe pitching. Storytelling, card games and guitar playing were common throughout the evening. MetroSports Magazine | 27
Metro Area Honor Student, Kristina Esposito, Continues to Advance Her Racing Career Earns a Place on the All-Women Shift Up Now Team Will Kristina Esposito follow in the footsteps of, and perhaps surpass, Guy Vaughan? On the weekend of August 10-11, 2019, 17 year-old Mamaroneck resident and high school honor student, Kristina Esposito, competed as a driver in the Tire Rack ChampCar Endurance Series Race at Virginia International Raceway. She was part of the team of drivers along with Jeronimo Guzman, T.O. Johnson, David Leira, Skip McCusker and David Tuaty, along with crew members Michael Irion, Ignacio Hernandez and Patricia Shields. With sponsorship from TLM Racing, Infantry Time Instruments and Shift Up Now, Kristina and her teammates brought their 1993 BMW 325 home in 1st place in the EC Class, completing 476 laps in the course of the 24 hour endurance race. One hundred and fourteen years earlier, on a comparable summer weekend of June 23-24, 1905, another Westchester County teenager from another sound shore community, 18 year old New Rochelle high school graduate, Guy Vaughan, set a new world 24 hour automobile endurance and speed record at Empire City Raceway in Yonkers, NY. Now part of MGMâ€™s casino and harness racing facility, Empire City regularly hosted auto racing events between 1900-1907. Vaughn covered a distance of 1,015.8 miles over the 24 hours. Vaughn who went on to finish third in Westchesterâ€™s 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race and served as the Honorary Referee for the 1941 Indianapolis 500, became president and CEO of the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corporation. See link
28 | July-August 2019
Above: Kristina Esposito photographed in 2017
below for coverage on Guy Vaughan and early NY Metro area racing. Driving the #810 TLM BMW 325 for roughly 2 hour shifts, managing just two, 2-hour naps during the long night, and capturing the win, Kristina continues to burnish her racing bona fides. While still a high school student with one year of studies remaining, this 2nd degree Tae Kwon Do black belt continues to develop in both skill and confidence. Recently signing-on with the all-women racing team, Shift Up Now, Kristina joins with some highly skilled and accomplished female racers including Pippa Mann and Shea Holbrook.
TLM team owner and fellow driver David Tuaty summed up the race this way. “What an amazing race! TLM Racing’s BMW 325 performed wonderfully. It was a pretty trouble free race, we did have a few off track excursions but the drivers handled them like pros.” Kristina’s racing career got its start at the age of 7 when she began racing go-karts and where she accumulated multiple indoor league wins. In fact. MetroSports Magazine first encountered Kristina in an indoor kart series at Grand Prix New York competing against Aurora Straus who is now racing professionally, Josh Green who is moving up in the open wheel racing circuit, and her brother, Nicholas Esposito. At age 14, she enrolled in the Skip Barber Racing School and received her Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) license when she was 15 years old. She joined the New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) Drivers Club and bought a Mazda Miata ITA class racecar. She participated in a number of SCCA and National
Auto Sports Association events. Kristina finished 4th place in her first two SCCA races. She soon won 1st place in her class in an SCCA Regional Race and then won 1st place in her class in a solo 6-hr leg of SCCA’s Devil in the Dark in October 2018. See links below for prior MetroSports racing issues and articles. Recognized as a hometown hero by one who knows both Kristina and racing very well. “Kristina Esposito” noted Norman Rosenblum, former Mayor of Kristina’s home town Village of Mamaroneck “is a seasoned race car driver since she was seven years old whose experience and ability belies her age as a senior in high school. I have been fortunate in being directly involved in NASCAR Truck series Jim Rosenblum/FDNY #28 team, the America’s Cup, Courageous Challenge team in Australia and confidently see Kristina as a high level competitor, team member and unlimited in success for her future as a championship level driver.”
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Above: Kristina Esposito flanked by FDNY Racing team owner Jim Rosenblum (left) and former Mammaroneck Village mayor, Norman Rosenblum (right). Below, with TLM owner David Tuaty. Photos Courtesy Team Esposito Racing
After the race, Kristina told MetroSports Magazine that, “I am thrilled my team took first place in our class, with Shift Up Now’s partner TLM USA Racing. Every crew member and driver was so supportive of each other. We wouldn’t have won without all of us working together. The Virginia International Raceway Track was fun, exciting and challenging, especially at night in the dark! I look forward to doing it again!” With her driving prowess, winning ways, outgoing personality, promotion of stopbullying.com, and joining the team of Shift Up Now, Kristina is becoming a role model for other young women, even very young women. 30 | July-August 2019
Facing Page: Getting track time and refining their driving skills, MetroSports Magazine photographed Kristina Esposito (above) and Aurora Straus (bellow) and Grand Prix New York in Mount Kisco. Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg
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July-August 2019 Issue