Updated: Jun 27
PORTLAND, Ore. - Many were surprised when it was announced that the city of Portland would replace New York City as the new American-based round in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
From 2017 to 2022 (absent in 2020 due to the pandemic), the New York City E-Prix at the Brooklyn Street Circuit was Formula E's premier event in the United States. Now, the electric racing series is trading the "Big Apple" in the Northeast for a destination in the Pacific Northwest known as "Rip City."
Portland is a city that's best known for world-renowned restaurants, natural landmarks and the unique "weird" culture of the city which inspired "Portlandia." The city had a rough spell with the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
However, since coming out of the pandemic's worst days, Portland International Raceway is starting to blossom. Joining the Grand Prix of Portland which was revived when the NTT IndyCar Series returned in 2018, the NASCAR Xfinity Series arrived in 2022 and Formula E in 2023.
Formula E saw a sell-out crowd come out to see an epic race that left many people talking about next year, including those inside the Formula E paddock, who were beyond impressed by the strong turnout and support from everyone that attended.
TAG Heuer Porsche's Antonio Felix da Costa felt pleased seeing all the fans filling up PIR.
"When I came onto the track this morning, I was not expecting the turnout from all these guys," da Costa said. "This is big. You guys like IndyCar, you like NASCAR, to see this support for Formula E is insane so thanks for coming out. It’s really, really cool. I thought that was a great show, to be honest - there was a lot going on."
Nick Cassidy "Envisions" Championship Run
Nick Cassidy has been part of Envision Racing since Season 7 when it had the Audi e-tron FE07 powertrain. Despite two second-place finishes that year, Cassidy finished 15th in the points compared to his then-teammate Robin Frijns, who finished fifth in the championship.
The following year, Cassidy finished behind Frijns again, despite earning his first career Formula E win in a chaotic New York City E-Prix. Entering this year, some believed that Cassidy might be the potential No. 2 driver to new teammate Sebastien Buemi this year, but we've learned that's clearly not the case, especially after his victory in the Southwire Portland E-Prix.
“We’ve had a good run in America over the last couple of years, and I love racing here,” Cassidy said.
“That race was fun, it was so close and the battle with both da Costa and Jake (Dennis) was pretty intense. Credit to Envision Racing, what a car, what a powertrain, it allowed us to move up the field and fight at the front and get the win.”
Leaving Portland, Cassidy is one point behind championship leader Jake Dennis, with two race weekends and four races left in the season at Rome and London. Buemi, in 8th, is still mathematically in the championship hunt.
Pack Racing Debate
With Formula E racing on a traditional road course, many anticipated a race similar to Berlin and Sao Paulo. However, when the long straights and the 28-lap race distance were taken into consideration, this made power saving a huge priority. This enabled pack racing which many compared to a NASCAR race at superspeedways such as Daytona and Talladega.
Cassidy was asked about any concerns about leading the start of the final lap and he responded by saying he's seen "many Indy 500s."
NEOM McLaren's Jake Hughes said he learned being in the middle of the pack was more challenging for energy saving compared to the front.
Next year, with the introduction of a quick charge and live pit stops, the issue of constant pack racing might not be an issue anymore. However, there's no doubt that pack racing produced plenty of overtaking, fast speeds and more progress for the third-generation Formula E car.
American Racing Experience
Portland became the fourth American city (Long Beach, Miami, New York) to host Formula E but the first to use a natural road course instead of a street circuit. Portland International Raceway's location in the city, access through public transit and dedicated facility meant a more traditional speedway experience.
For the first time, Formula E had RV campers at the track, with people camping since Thursday and waiting for the race on Saturday evening. This is a staple in American motorsports as fans camp all weekend and enjoy the races.
Fans had plenty of entertainment from 9 a.m. local time when the gates opened, between the track sessions and after the race. VIP and suite sections were available for celebrities, including American rapper, singer and fashion designer Jaden Smith.
The American National Anthem, followed by a military flyover, got the fans excited and ready for the Portland E-Prix. Additionally, the exciting on-track product had fans already talking about next year's race. This event rivals the IndyCar and NASCAR races weekend at PIR.
Thank You: Support Staff and Volunteers
Putting on any event is a huge task involving multiple organizations working together to make the event a success. On Friday morning, one security guard was injured at the track in a scary incident, but thankfully this person is recovering and expected to be OK.
The marshals are all volunteers and many are Friends of PIR. They had to undergo thorough training on handling Formula E cars and understanding the risks such as electrocution. Without the marshals and support staff, there wouldn't be any racing for all the spectators, so GRID Network wants to thank everyone who made this event possible and safe for all involved.
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the premier motorsport ranking in the world and it was initially released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which help determine their seeding each week in the 2023 GRID Ranking.
In this week's Formula E GRID Rating, Pascal Wehrlein and Nick Cassidy swapped spots. Now, Cassidy has a 13-point advantage in our rating over Wehrlein. Jake Dennis remains in third, 18 points behind. Mitch Evans is still fourth, and Antonio Felix da Costa moves into the top five ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne by three points.
Week 13 of the GRID Ranking has Cassidy in the top 10 and three Formula E drivers in the top 20. Wehrlein and Dennis are 16th and 17th respectively and Evans is 27th.
GRID Ranking Week 13 Formula E Drivers:
MOST RECENT FINISH
Antonio Felix da Costa
Southwire Portland E-Prix Round 12 Results: