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Extreme E to work with Coulthard’s Velocity Experience to produce ‘virtual hybrid events’

Extreme E's global launch in London. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images for Extreme E)

Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series, has announced that it is working with Velocity Experience, the live event and brand experience company co-founded by former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard, to develop ‘virtual hybrid events’.

A statement from Extreme E said the two companies will develop “innovative plans for touring race experiences and producing new ways and different approaches to hospitality as well as planning for the Extreme E team’s launch coming up later in the year”.

Described as ‘Blue Planet meets Dakar rally’, and organised by the people behind Formula E, Extreme E will make a virtue of highlighting the impact of climate change by racing in remote locations already ravaged by global warming.

Given its green aspirations, it will operate a largely spectator-free model and has already announced it will offer virtual hospitality rather than the real thing, to minimise the environmental impact of races.

The series has also previously referenced the Covid-19 pandemic and how it has ‘highlighted the need’ for ‘alternatives to how traditional sports are run’.

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Ali Russell, chief marketing officer at Extreme E, said the series would draw on Velocity’s virtual presentation and virtual networking solutions to create more compelling events for spectators and hospitality clients.

“This shift to online events is not just a Covid time strategy,” he said. “These solutions will enable our revolutionary electric SUV off-road racing series to reach increased levels of virtual and digital engagements with our growing media and fanbases, using methods which more closely align with our guiding principles.”

Velocity Experience, co-founded by Coulthard and TBA Group chief executive Guy Horner in 2017, has built a reputation for producing live events and hospitality experiences focusing on the motorsport sector. The company was behind Formula 1 Live fan festival which brought 100,000 fans to central London in 2017 and has also produced hospitality experiences for the Red Bull Racing F1 team and the all-female W Series.

The company has been working with Extreme E since producing the electric series’ launch on board RMS St Helena in London in January 2019. The Velocity team has also produced other key Extreme E media and fan events, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed car launch and the Autosport International fan exhibition.

Velocity chief executive Coulthard said: “This is an exciting partnership for Velocity Experience as we build an even stronger relationship with Extreme E and are getting closer towards the inaugural season start in 2021. It is important to focus on the future of event solutions and really drive a new way of watching and engaging around motorsport, making the championship as accessible as possible for all of our fans.”

Extreme E teams will reveal their livery designs via a virtual showcase in September. Group testing then gets underway in December 2020 before teams board Extreme E’s floating paddock – the RMS St. Helena – ahead of the opening race in early 2021.

Extreme E’s virtual hospitality offering includes sending virtual reality headsets to guests; VIP access to a live streaming service; tours around team paddocks; driver interviews and track walks. For an additional cost, the new series will send a personal chef to their homes to prepare a ‘culinary experience’ based on the location of the week’s race. There are also plans to send out VIP hampers containing signed merchandise and other race-related products.