Formula eek! Red Hook leader: No one told us about the massive car race coming here next year

E grade: Speedsters like this green car will hit the track when the Formula E electric car race comes to Red Hook next July.
Photo by Paul Martinka

The cars aren’t the only things keeping quiet in this race!

The city made the shock announcement last week that Red Hook’s Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will host a leg of international electric-car racing series Formula E Championship on July 29 and 30 next year, but it was an unwelcome surprise for one local leader, who says city and race officials should have consulted residents about bringing the massive event to their sleepy burg before making the decision.

“There’s been no outreach to us directly, nor as we could tell, any outreach to the Red Hook community,” said Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “Frankly, for them to assume the event is happening before these conversations take place shows a certain degree of ignorance or arrogance.”

To add insult to injury, Hammerman claims the Economic Development Corporation — the city agency working with Formula E on the event — called him the day before the announcement and invited him to publicly support the race, even though it couldn’t give him any details about it.

“The day before the press conference, EDC called to let us know as a courtesy and asked us if we could be there as supporters,” said Hammerman. “It wouldn’t make sense to be seen as supporting the event when we had no information about it.”

The battery-powered cars are far quieter than their gas-guzzling Formula 1 counterparts and will not be racing on any public streets — they will zoom along a route that snakes past the Cruise Terminal and hooks around Atlantic Basin, going to the edge of Pioneer and Conover streets, then running parallel to Imlay Street.

Still, Formula E events typically draw tens of thousands of spectators, and Hammerman said the organization and city honchos really should sit down with community members to work out how they can minimize the impact on the area.

At least one local business owner is thrilled to have big crowds headed to the neighborhood, though.

“It would be insane to think it’s not fantastic because it will bring people here,” said Triciann Botta, who owns Italian wine store Botta di Vino on Van Brunt Street. “It would be great if somehow they knew that I have their celebratory champagne over here.”

Economic Development Corporation spokesman Anthony Hogrebe claimed the agency did have conversations about the race with the community board — though the panel’s Transportation Committee co-chair Eric McClure confirmed he also hadn’t heard a thing — as well as with local pols, and said the commission and Formula E plan to work with them all over the next 10 months of planning.

The city will only have to close a few nearby blocks for attendee entrances because the race will be contained inside the Cruise Terminal and an adjacent lot, he claimed, though the details of exactly where those entrances will be haven’t been decided yet. The agency will discuss them with community leaders before making any final decisions, he pledged.

The waterfront hamlet is notoriously subway-free, though the city is opening a new ferry stop right inside Atlantic Basin next year, and Hogrebe said Formula E honchos are interested in using the boats to transport as many people as possible to and from the race.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
The scenic route: This map shows the preliminary race route.
Formula E

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