February '17

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24 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2017 building. They are tomorrow's hot rod- ders." Drift cars these day are purpose-built competition machines and feature the latest performance and safety technologies. The tires and many other parts used are off-the- shelf items that fans can easily acquire for their own vehicles. Liaw hopes that traditional series will agree there's room for drifting in the motor- sports landscape. "Many of our fans first experience this industry through drift, but it's not their last or only experience," he says. "We're driving future enthusiasts and participants in motorsports." Jim Wright, head of commercial for Ven- turi Formula E, is convinced that the future will also include space for electric vehicle racing as found in FIA Formula E. Calling the series "100-percent relevant to what the OEMs will bring to market in the future," it's become "a test center for relevant development." With grand prix competitions in cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Paris, Monaco and others, Formula E is taking an innovative approach to many aspects of the traditional motorsports setup, from no-pay drivers to e-gaming promotions to an entrance into land speed racing. In just two seasons, U.S. viewership of EV racing is at 2.5 million and growing, Wright reports, and recent gains in vehicle efficiency and performance show that the technological advancements are real. "It's where the action is, and where the kids are," he explains. Taking the combination of motorsports, videogames and a younger audience even further is Formula E's Roborace, a 100-per- cent electric, 100-percent autonomous competition where "the engineers are the stars," according to Mikhail Sokolov, head of product and technology. With a focus on software development "and a huge space for lots of technology showcases," Sokolov says Roborace has close to 2 million followers on social media. "It's the next big thing," he predicts. WHERE TO GO FROM HERE While not everyone is quite ready for driv- erless vehicles to take center stage, there is at least some agreement that motor- sports in general will continue to branch out from traditional gasoline combustion power plants. "There is plenty going on in advanced propulsion," says GM's Campbell. "The possibilities are endless." Ford's Pericak adds that while there's probably no one technology that currently meets everyone's motorsports demands, some sort of combination approach may be the way of the future. "We want to protect everything that performance cars are about, but do it in a responsible way." Wright believes a strong movement away from gasoline power in Europe could accel- erate EV adoption in the U.S. "Electrifica- tion is coming. Let's embrace it. We need to work faster." Colin Dyne, CEO of Red Bull Global Rallycross, notes his series is adding an EV class to its small car/small track com- petitions. "The EV industry has evolved quickly," he notes. "We're not looking to replace what we have, but offer an entry point." Atehrton adds IMSA and other series will continue to "take cues from the manufac- turers and what they want to showcase. We want to be conscious of changes, but it is expensive." Jim Campbell, GM's VP of perfor- mance vehicles and motorsports, is excited about the future possibilities racing provides. David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD USA, says the love of the automobile is rooted in Americana. PERFORMANCE CHANGING ON THE FLY Is the driverless, all-electric Roborace series the future of motorsports?

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