Just what is it about male Hollywood actors and a love for fast cars?
James Dean, Steve McQueen and James Garner set the ball rolling. All enjoyed varying degrees of success in their privateer racing careers before Paul Newman transferred his passion as a driver to become one of one of the most successful U.S. racing team owners.
Even more recently, Tom Cruise took time out under the tutelage of David Coulthard to drive a Red Bull Formula One car in Southern California as part of a promotional stunt for the U.S. Grand Prix.
So when Leonardo DiCaprio announced he was joining forces with Venturi Automobiles to enter a team into the inaugural Formula E series, it did not come as a huge surprise.
But while the likes of McQueen, Newman and Cruise all took to the road behind the wheel of gas-guzzling rockets, the cars that DiCaprio are involved with portray a very different message.
The series, which begins in 2014, is the first ever electric single-seater championship. A long-time environmental campaigner, DiCaprio has owned hybrid cars including the Toyota Prius, Fisker Karma and the all-electric Tesla Roadster.
As quoted by Autosport's Sam Tremayne, DiCaprio’s reasoning for his involvement in the series is part of his ongoing message to embrace a greener future.
"The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles. Venturi Grand Prix 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."
While some skeptics may view DiCaprio’s involvement as a publicity stunt, there appears no real reason why he should get involved other than a genuine passion for racing and he appears to be in it for the long term.
For the first season, each of the 10 participating teams will have an almost identical specification of machine, but from 2015, teams are free to develop their own drivetrains. And Venturi is already a leader in the field as the current holder of the electric land speed record, with plans to better their 307 mph mark set in 2010 with the new VBB-3 challenger.
The series is also being overseen by the FIA, and just a glance at some of the other nine entrants that will form the grid for the 2014/15 championship season, including Andretti Autosport, Virgin Racing and Audi Sport ABT, means every fan of motorsports should be excited about the series.
That is, of course, until the cars start running. The high-pitched electrical whine may not be to every fan’s taste.
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