You might assume that Formula One racing freaks and environmentalists would have absolutely nothing in common. But you would be wrong.
Welcome to the supercharged world of Formula E racing.
The E is for electric.
And, in the case of the new documentary And We Go Green, E also stands for excitement.
And there is one more E, for the environment.
Battery powered cars are increasingly in our collective future.
The technology developed on high speed race tracks eventually trickles down to the cars we drive every day. The trend is accelerating.
While we’re on the subject of multiple meanings, the Green in the title And We Go Green of course refers to the green light that starts auto sport competitions and the Go Green rallying cry of those environmentally conscious prople who want to save the world from air pollution.
As it turns out, the founder of Formula E (Alejandro Agag) is equally passionate about fast cars and fresh air.
Gentlemen, start your engines!
About the only thing missing in Formula E is the thunderous, screaming roar of those Formula One engines.
What you get instead is the whistling jet sounds of tires burning up the racetracks.
Cool in a different way. And not hard to get used to.
Formula E adopts the basic premise of Formula One racing.
Essentially, a series of street races staged in some of the most exotic locations in the world. Monaco, Rome, Paris, a total of 12 races in 10 cities.
Race car fanatics will tell you that Formula One is a driver's sport.
Rather than 500 grueling high-speed laps around a circular track (The Indy 500) Formula One requires drivers to drive fast on the straight-aways and also slow down for tricky, precise hair-pin turns, through blocked-off city streets.
And We go Green captures all that with eye-popping camera technology including car-mounted cameras, helmet-mounted cameras, and drones.
If you like adrenaline-fueled racing thrills, this is the movie for you.
In addition to the race footage and the eye candy of beautiful locations, the movie drills down through the helmets and heads of the highly-competitive, super star drivers to see what makes them tick.
As you would expect, they are a special breed of speed freaks wired to win.
They live by the credo that coming in second only means that you’re the first loser.
Surprisingly, And We Go Green features a few guest appearances including the Pope (an environmentalist, who is shown meeting drivers and blessing race cars) and Leonardo DiCaprio (also a dedicated environmentalist, with an interest in racing who was one of the producers of the movie).
The story of this quickly evolving technology is fascinating.
Just a few short years ago when Formula E was launched, the concept was a bit ahead of the new race car design and the dependence upon battery power, which at the time, required drivers to change cars during the race, to avoid running out of juice.
Those issues are being resolved with the assurance that new power cells will run further and faster in the matter of five years.
Current cars can complete a race on just one charge.
And We Go Green is an enjoyable documentary.
There is a nice balance of incredible racing footage interspersed with probing interviews with the race world rock stars in the flame-proof suits.
I was expecting a little more racing footage in the mix, but I’m not complaining.
If you love movies like this, I’d like to also recommend a few of my racing classic favorites including John Frankenheimer’s The Grand Prix (1966, starring James Garner and Eva Marie Saint), the granddaddy of all Formula One racing films.
It’s truly an epic movie with its use of 70mm widescreen technology and mind-blowing car-mounted camera shots, many of them giving the viewer a driver-eye point of view.
Remarkably, much of the footage was shot during actual Formula One races showing actual, spectacular smash ups. It’s something to behold.
And, of course, there is Steve McQueen’s Le Mans (1971), a fan favorite with the King of Cool himself, behind the wheel, doing his own dangerous driving (not using stunt drivers or doubles) as he did in the detective classic Bullitt (1968).
If you’re feeling the need for speed, I’d recommend any or all of these movies.
Remember to fasten your safety belt!
And We Go Green premieres on Hulu on June 4