Winning ‘Formula’: Race fans bring surge of activity to Red Hook during event

Winning ‘Formula’: Race fans bring surge of activity to Red Hook during event
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Talk about a jolt of excitement!

Massive electric-car race Formula E zoomed into Red Hook last weekend for its inaugural competition in New York City, and while fans said the green sport drew smaller crowds than its gas-guzzling older brother, it still satisfied their need for speed.

“Overall, it was a great event,” said David Cippitelli, a Long Island resident who regularly attends Formula 1 races. “Everybody said the crowds were insane, but I didn’t think they were that bad. I’m used to the crowds for Formula 1 races, which are a lot bigger.”

Drivers zipped around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal at speeds up to 140-miles-per hour as fans including actors Chris Hemsworth and Leonardo DiCaprio looked on.

DS Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird took first place in the races on July 15 and 16, popping champagne on the podium with Sir Richard Branson — the team’s owner and back-up driver for the weekend — to celebrate.

The action extended from the track to the event’s fan village, where Cippitelli said his two youngsters were captivated by displays that educated attendees about the battery-powered sport.

“They loved all of the stuff there,” he said. “They were totally enthralled with all of the fan activities.”

Race-goers flooded area businesses after the big event, according to Cippitelli, who said the wait at Red Hook Lobster Pound was an hour-long when he tried to grab a bite.

Local merchants confirmed the hordes, and some said the weekend’s festivities brought them more business than ever before.

“Saturday was our busiest day yet, and Sunday ran a close second,” said Kristina Frantz, co-owner of Dolce, a gelateria on Van Brunt and King streets.

The sweet shop served a special, event-inspired gelato made with espresso and glycerine — the tasteless, edible liquid Formula E racers use to power their cars — and drivers, fans, and some very important people who Frantz declined to name all sampled the frosty treat, she said.

The “Soul Fuel” flavor has been so popular that Dolce will continue to serve it for the near future, according to the co-owner, who called Formula E’s visit to the neighborhood a success and cheered the sport for its environmentally-friendly sensibility.

“It was great for Red Hook,” Frantz said. “And I think it’s a great thing in general to work with sustainable energy rather than polluting everything.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill