FIM's e-Power race at Laguna Seca still not confirmed
The FIM in their infinite wisdom has created their own electric motorcycle race series, e-Power. The two races held so far have been pretty anemic with a small field and lackluster performances. Not to diss the individual team efforts because I haven't been at any of those races. However the race results indicate the overall performance levels weren't even competitive with the bikes who have raced in the US TTXGP. More importantly the small field of racers is the really lackluster thing. Some bloggers watching the scene have called the e-Power races 'lame' and called for FIM to give up on the e-Power plan. However, on FIM's e-Power schedule is a race at the Laguna Seca race track which might be a different show than the ones they've put on so far.
The reason is because Laguna Seca is in the back yard of the SF Bay Area, an area that is for some reason a hotbed of electric motorcycle development. Within easy distance of Laguna Seca are the majority of the teams racing in the US TTXGP (Lightning Motors, Electric Motorsport, ElectricRaceBikes.com, Volt Motorcycles, etc) as well as Mission Motors, Zero Motorcycles, Motoczysz, and Brammo. Those teams could be enticed by FIM to race in an e-Power race occurring in their back yard.
The puzzle however is that while FIM's e-Power site lists the event on the e-Power schedule, it is not listed on Laguna Seca's website. Is the race actually going to happen?
I sent an email to the Laguna Seca press office and they just confirmed a couple facts. First, yes indeed there is no set agreement yet that the e-Power race will be held that weekend at Laguna Seca. I suppose FIM is being overly hopeful by listing it in their e-Power schedule. In any case, Laguna Seca's press office says they are still in negotiations with FIM, AMA and Dorna over holding the e-Power race at Laguna Seca on that weekend.
That's all they would confirm. So if you will indulge me in some informed speculation ...
First issue is the business model of holding races. The race weekend organizers have a set period of time (a weekend) to fill with events sufficient to draw race fans to the race weekend. Race weekend organizers generally jam in as many hours of action packed racing excitement as they can, and obviously they want to know every event in the weekend will draw ticket sales. At the end of the day race weekend organizers are a business whose objective is to sell tickets.
Hence a proposal to add a race to a given weekend has to meet up with the business model of the race weekend organizers. Will that race draw ticket sales or will it sap interest away from the weekend? Further, if the weekend's schedule is already full, how does one accommodate a proposed addition to the schedule?
I'd imagine that if electric motorcycle racing was proven to draw ticket sales there would be little question about adding the e-Power race to the schedule. But the field of electric motorcycle racing is rather young and unknown. Given FIM's pathetic e-Power races I expect it would not give confidence to the organizers of the race weekend at Laguna Seca.
It's been learned that FIM is paying the 5 e-Power race teams to fly to the US for a Laguna Seca race. Further FIM has sent emails to the teams who have participated in US TTXGP inviting them to participate. This means that at the minimum FIM has the 5 teams who participated in prior e-Power races. Will there be any other teams join them? As I said Laguna Seca is in the back yard of the hotbed of electric motorcycle development, would any of those teams decide to race at e-Power?
That remains to be seen. Fortuitously that weekend (July 24, 25) is not on the US TTXGP schedule. However it is squeezed between two US TTXGP events, one at Mosport Canada (July 11), the other at Virginia International Raceway (August 15). Given that most of the US TTXGP teams are based in Northern California, to participate in the remaining US TTXGP races plus the FIM e-Power race means several cross country trips within 5 weeks. First is the trek to Mosport for a TTXGP race, then a trek back to Laguna Seca for a race, then another trek to Virgina for a TTXGP race. That sounds like a grueling five weeks. Especially for teams with little sponsorship funding themselves from their own money.
The question then is, what is FIM's purpose in pushing for the Laguna Seca race? Is it to build up e-Power's reputation or is it to throw a monkey wrench into the TTXGP race series?