Formula E Spark-Renault SRT_01E electric racer makes U.S. debut in Las Vegas

While sweaty journalists and industry reps were making the rounds at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, there was a different kind of show on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Formula E electric-car racing series made a big splash with the U.S. debut of the Spark-Renault SRT_01E.

Former Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi put the Spark-Renault through its paces around the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and even drove down the Strip (with a police escort, of course) to Caesar’s Palace.

Unveiled last September, the Spark-Renault will be the only chassis to compete in Formula E’s inaugural season, although teams are expected to have more leeway  in car design in future seasons.

Designed and built by France’s Spark Racing Technology, the SRT_01E got some help from some very impressive motorsport organizations. Its chassis was built by Dallara, which builds the DW12 IndyCar, and various components were supplied by Williams, McLaren, and Renault.

Each car normally produces 180 horsepower, but 270 hp is available in short bursts. The car’s top speed is about 150 mph.

Unlike F1, each Formula E event – or “Electric Prix” – will take place over a single day, with practice, qualifying, and racing happening back-to-back. This is because the series will exclusively use temporary street circuits, and people don’t like being inconvenienced.

Those batteries probably won’t last very long anyway.

Those events will take place in 10 cities worldwide. The season kicks off in September, with two U.S. races – Miami and Los Angeles – scheduled for the spring of 2015.

The inaugural Formula E roster will include teams from Mahindra, Drayson Racing, and even a team backed by Leonardo di Caprio. There will be 10 teams total, each fielding two drivers.

One thing is certain: this will probably be the quietist starting grid in racing history.

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