Sports Xtra: Ganassi Racing joins environmental series

Posted at 10:22 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 22:22:49-04

INDIANAPOLIS — This isn't your typical dive into racing. Electric, off-road SUVs going to some of the world's most remote locations.

It's called Extreme E. Among the first to sign up? The team with a shop on the northwest side — Chip Ganassi Racing.

Mike Hull is the managing director of the team with Chip now celebrating 30 years of racing.

"I don't think it's as far-reaching as you might be implying," Hull said. "Chip Ganassi Racing has always been about innovation. It's always been about the enhancement of technology."

It's a racing series built on social purpose with 12 teams using fully electric SUVs. They compete in locations directly affected by environmental changes like Senegal, Nepal and Greenland. There are any number of car manufacturers being represented.

"The auto manufacturers are realizing, or already realized, that 2023, 24, 25, 50 percent of their fleets on the showroom floor are going to have to be non-fossil fuel engines. That is the technology going forward in the industry we represent.

There will be two drivers, one male, one female. Even transportation will be different. When the race is over, the cars are loaded onto a ship and taken to the next event.

"They literally purchased a freighter that was somewhere parked on the Thames River and they completely converted this thing," Hull said. "The bottom level is where the vehicles will be. There'll be a work station for each of the 12 teams there."

IndyCar will return soon enough, as will the other series Chip Ganassi Racing will compete. The sights and sounds we're used to augmented by something completely different.

"We've always represented the forward thinking nature of car manufacturers," Hull said. "We're going to continue to race sports cars, IndyCars, stock cars and now we're going to race a completely different vehicle, but guess what, it's racing and I look forward to Sunday."