On Wednesday Chip Ganassi Racing announced its entry to the Extreme E electric off-road racing series. CGR is the seventh team confirmed to join the series, alongside Andretti Autosport, HWA, Venturi, Abt Sportsline, Veloce, and QEV Technologies. That’s some pretty serious competition.
The Extreme E series is the brainchild of Alejandro Agag, and is set to begin in January with the first round in Senegal. The Extreme E off-road vehicles are all built by Spark Technologies—the same company which builds the Formula E chassis—and will be powered by a pair of Formula E electric motors putting out a combined 550 horsepower. Agag had intended to start season one with 12 teams on the roster, but has since lowered that number to eight due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus.
The Ganassi team has a hole in its garage where the Ford GT IMSA program was once housed, so this Extreme E program will fill it up quite nicely. The team has plenty of experience in motorsport, with hundreds of wins in IndyCar, NASCAR, and sports cars. While CGR doesn’t have much off-road experience, this being a spec chassis, it could be the perfect place to start. The team can easily adapt to new challenges, however, as it is the only team in history to have collected wins at all six; the Daytona 24, Le Mans 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, and Brickyard 400.
Chip Ganassi had this to say about his team entering Extreme E:
“Extreme E is a very different proposition to anything we have done before, but it’s where I think motor racing is headed in the future. When I started our team in 1990, one of the founding principles I built it on was innovation.
I’ve always been passionate about pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and Extreme E checks that box for us in a big way. It represents an opportunity in motor racing to use the latest technologies to attract a new, younger audience to this great sport of ours.
Everything about Extreme E is cool, from the car to the race format and the in-built technology. We’re thrilled to join the championship and to play a part in developing the future of our sport.”
Did you hear that? Chip Ganassi thinks Extreme E is cool! Well, if it’s good enough for Chip Ganassi, it’s good enough for me.
You’ll recognize Andretti Autosport as the IndyCar team where Michael Andretti employs his son to do a middling job, and perhaps as the Formula E team with BMW backing.
HWA Racelab is a German team running Mercedes-AMG’s customer team operations in GT3 and GT4. It also runs a Formula E team with Mercedes backing, as well as a team of Formula 3 and Formula 2 drivers.
Venturi Racing is run out of the workshops of Venturi Automobiles in Monaco. In addition to building a bunch of concept-car looking bespoke automobiles for rich folk, it has a Formula E team.
Abt Sportline is a long-time Audi tuner and race shop. The team has a number of championships in ADAC GT Masters, Super Touring Car Cup, and DTM. Since 2013 the team has focused on the open-wheel career of Daniel Abt, who has raced for his family’s Formula E team since 2014.
Veloce Racing is a race team co-founded by Formula E champion Jean-Éric Vergne, Adrian Newey, and former Marussia F1 CEO Andrew Webb. The team’s website includes Super Formula racer (and Adrian Newey’s son) Harrison Newey as Business Development Director so it’s possible he’ll be driving in some capacity.
And finally QEV Technologies is a Barcelona-based engineering firm which can be contracted by larger companies for bespoke automobile production with a slant toward electric propulsion. It appears QEV has been involved in the revival of Hispano Suiza, the electric Arcfox sports car, and Mahindra’s Formula E team.
In all seriousness, however, I am very much looking forward to the start of the Extreme E season. This new series is going to rip. I wonder which team will join as the eighth entry.