Car-crazed Californians caught a glimpse of what the future of car racing might look—and sound—like at the second annual Formula E series in Long Beach on April 2, the only U.S. stop on the Formula E tour this year.
As you can tell from the video above, the cars sound like hyperactive golf carts. For a spectator, it’s quieter than standing by a six-lane highway.
It’s fair to say Formula E still has a long way to go: The current generation of electric racing cars manage a mere 150 mph on the track, compared to 220 mph for Formula 1 cars. But don’t imagine this is your mom’s Prius.
“It’s a whole new experience, and it’s exciting,” said Joe Medina, a self-declared car racing aficionado who turned out for Saturday’s race.
With races taking place later this year on the streets of Berlin, Paris and London, (which are all European cities that currently prohibit Formula 1 racing on the street), race organizers are hoping that electric cars’ quiet performance can lure in a new generation of car racing fans who like their racing thrills without the ear-splitting roar of internal combustion engines.
“We want to bring the races to the people,” said FIA Formula E’s CEO Alejandro Agag. “The races are kid friendly and you can actually have a conversation.”
The electric variety has additional bells and whistles, like virtual reality racing, where viewers wearing VR goggles can put themselves in the cockpit of the cars. Another feature, called Fanboost, allows spectators to vote on which driver gets an added burst of energy during the race, perhaps giving an underdog favorite the chance to make a crucial pass of a competitor.
One day, there might even be Roboraces, pitting driverless cars head to head on the track. Clearly, electric cars are getting ready for their moment.