The former CART venue poised to join Formula E's calendar - The Race
Formula E

The former CART venue poised to join Formula E’s calendar

May 5 2021
By Sam Smith

Vancouver is set to host a Formula E race for the first time in the summer of 2022 after an experienced group of racing professionals identified the city as a perfect venue.

The One Stop Strategy (OSS) Group company and Formula E are expected to formalise the plans this month to ensure that Vancouver becomes the second Canadian city to host a race after the Montreal E-Prix was a double-header fixture in July 2017.

OSS, which includes former Lotus Formula 1 managing director Matthew Carter and several other proven industry personnel, selected the Canadian venue to host a race after being chosen by Formula E to identify new cities.

The Race understands that Canada’s third largest metropolitan city will form one part of a North American leg in either late June and/or early to mid-July alongside the New York City E-Prix before the 2022 campaign wraps up in London.

A provisional draft of the schedule is expected to be made public in July at the FIA World Motor Sport Council and is set to include at least two other new cities that will host Formula E races.

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The contract between Formula E and OSS, which is spearheading plans for the event, is believed to be for a five-year period in total but with a three-year active racing plan to sit within that framework.

The proposed track will be set within private parkland and will be within the same False Creek area used by CART IndyCar/Champ Car in various configurations from 1990 to 2004.

The Vancouver plans were first looked at in early 2019 with the intention to try for a slot on the present 2020/21 calendar but this was largely undone by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The overall credibility of OSS’s plans was bolstered by the presence of Phillip Smirnow, who was involved in the circuit design and overlay in both the Montreal and Bern E-Prix events in 2017 and 2019 respectively, as a director.

Smirnow was also the operations chief at the Canadian Grand Prix between 2011 and 2016.

Feasibility studies and other key work regarding scoping out the False Creek/Science World sites were completed in 2020, as was the decision to structure a specific model around a major business conference on a Thursday and Friday tying into a Saturday race.

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In addition, OSS is including two large concerts on the Friday and Saturday night of the event with a plan to allow ticket holders access to the E-Prix itself which will take place between the gigs.

The financial element of the project is believed to have been divulged to Formula E in the spring of 2020. OSS then had to seek official approval and permits from the City of Vancouver even though it is not seeking any financial support directly due to it already having a key investor.

The motion was heard last Wednesday and was voted for positively with a nine to one verdict in favour of a race being able to be planned for 2022.

As for the vibe and positioning of the Vancouver E-Prix, emulating the atmosphere and city involvement of the Montreal F1 race, which is widely lauded for its inclusivity, is likely to bring a major buzz through the conference, the race and the concerts.

OSS has also teamed up with Montreal based commerce creative firm C2. It specialises in creative business conferences, which will be a major part of the E-Prix event, majoring on sustainability topics.

Previous C2 events have featured the likes of Richard Branson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jane Fonda delivering keynote speeches.

The plans are plainly solid and credible and will ultimately be judged after a three-year period on results.

But this area of Canada has a captive audience as British Colombia, in which Vancouver is located, has the highest per capita market share for electric vehicles in North America.

At a time when Formula E’s calendar is struggling to be fully formed the imminent good news of a major new city centre race on a long-term basis will be greedily embraced by the currently beleaguered series promoter.

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