Celebrities fascinate the world, and who would be better than an award-winning Hollywood movie star to draw attention to a novel issue? — Not just any issue, but eco-friendly, zero-pollution alternative transportation.
A number of famous current film stars, and some of the past, played a “leading role” in motorsports. Think of Paul Newman’s many podium-finishes and wins in different classes. At an age when many stop driving, Paul Newman was winning races. He was successful at the highest level, driving to a second place in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to a class win in a Mustang at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
He is better known as team co-owner of Newman-Hass Racing in the open-wheel Indy Racing League.
Other Hollywood VIPs connected with the sport include George Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Stephen Moyer, Frankie Muniz, and surely not last, but not least, the unforgettable James Dean.
As they say, that was then, this is now; Leonardo DiCaprio is the latest pop idol to draw attention to motor-sport — in the literal sense, as in racing with motors, instead of engines. DiCaprio, an active environmentalist since an early, has co-founded the tenth Formula E Grand Prix team.
Formula E is the newest class at the highest level of auto racing.
Zero-pollution cars are not new to DiCaprio; at age 14, he modeled for Matchbox cars. Now, when he can afford larger cars, he has teamed up with Venturi Grand Prix Racing. He said, “The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles. Venturi has shown tremendous foresight in their decision to create an environmentally friendly racing team, and I am happy to be a part of this effort.”
Venturi is no newcomer to electric vehicles; for about a decade, the firm has developed a variety of EVs: high performance electric cars, city cars and commercial vehicles. Venturi also holds the EV world land speed record with 495 km/h. For the second season of Fomula E, the team is planning to build its own car with a powertrain based on the one used in its 3,000 hp electric streamliner, Venturi VBB-3. That amazing vehicle was unveiled in 2013 in Wendover, Utah, by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, also the home of Venturi.
Leonardo DiCaprio is not the only famous person connected with the new Formula E open-wheel racecars. Other teams are headed by the Andretti family, by Roger Penske’s son Jay, by Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group of companies, and by Lord Drayson, the UK Minister of State for Science and Innovation. Yet other Formula E teams involve previous Formula 1 drivers; Germany’s Volkswagen-Audi and India’s Mahindra conglomerate are early visionaries among the automakers supporting Formula E cars.
Contrary to F1 races, which are held on special racetracks, the Formula E races will be run inside major cities, so large parts of the population can become familiar with this new quiet non-polluting technology. These include Beijing; Putrajaya in Malaysia; Rio de Janeiro; Punta del Este in Uruguay; Buenos Aires; Los Angeles; Miami; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Berlin and London; a demonstration was recently given to the population of Moscow.
A different way to make people familiar with EVs moving through city streets emission-free and almost silently, was demonstrated with the help of another celebrity in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.