Extreme E electric race series to wind through Amazon burned zone
Extreme E, Formula E's off-road spinoff, has been very busy organizing its inaugural 2021 season. It released the design of its downright evil e-rally racer back in July and has been pulling in race teams, gathering partners and otherwise pouring the foundation of the new series. This week, organizers announced that a portion of the Amazon rainforest region scarred from this year's wildfires will feature in the opening season, casting a spotlight on environmental issues facing the local area.
More than just another race series, Extreme E was devised as a way of spreading awareness and sparking action on global environmental issues, including climate change and its effects, deforestation and plastic pollution. Part of that means running all-electric cars, and part of it means choosing dramatic, remote locations to bring the series right to the heart of problem zones. Organizers announced last month that Greenland will host the "Arctic" leg of the inaugural season, and now it's been revealed that the Santarém region of the Brazilian state of Pará will host the "Amazon" event.
The race will wind through a section of forest burned by wildfire this year, which is sure to spark conversation about deforestation and climate change. The Amazon has experienced a particularly virulent 2019, with a major uptick in wildfires reaching fever pitch in August and inspiring global concern and response.
"I was actually in this precise location just one month ago, where we saw pristine forests, which have now been decimated by fire," said Alejandro Agag, Extreme E founder and CEO. "Our goal is to provide support, not only to dedicated professional firefighters but also the local residents, who lack off-road vehicles, specialist equipment and training, as they strive to control the situation and protect their land."
Agag also said Extreme E will plant and protect an area of forest equal in size to the one used to host its race course, a number he puts at between 500 and 600 hectares (1,235 and 1,483 acres).
If you're still on the fence about whether barreling over previously ravaged forest floor with overpowered, oversized off-road racers is the most effective way of fighting to save the forest, Brazilian locals seem to be on board. Or at least their government leaders and officials do. Pará governor Helder Barbalho welcomed the increased awareness and tourism he expects the race series to bring, while Santarém 4 Firefighter Battalion Major Celso Piquet got down to the nuts and bolts.
"Every year during this period we experience fires in this area, and then in less than two months’ time, the rains will come, so we need to be experts in flood defense, too," Piquet said. "It’s really important that we have a building and all the equipment in Santarém and that we establish a firefighting center closer to the forests. With the help of Extreme E, that is something we hope to achieve.”
With Greenland and Brazil on the schedule, Extreme E will now focus on identifying the three remaining locations: one in the Himalayas, one in the desert, and one on an ocean coast.
This three-minute clip takes a look at the Santarém area and Extreme E's mission on the ground there:
Source: Extreme E