Formula E: Global Electric Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Hector Scarano
October 1, 2015
The race to sustainability is never-ending, but global electric racing is closing the distance.
John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of Green Is Good. This is the Green Sports Alliance edition of Green Is Good in beautiful downtown Chicago, and we are so honored and excited to have with us today Hector Scarano. He is the VP of Sales and Marketing for Andretti Autosport. Welcome to Green Is Good. Hector Scarano: Thank you very much for having me. John Shegerian: Hector, this is so exciting to have you here today to talk about the great Andretti brand and all the green things you guys are doing in sustainability. But before we get to that, share a little bit about your brand, the Hector Scarano story. Where did you get the bug for sustainability? Hector Scarano: Well, I am originally from Puerto Rico – my family is from Puerto Rico. We moved to the United States when I was about six or seven years old. I’ve always had an affinity to the tropics. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: And obviously, we intend to be as eco-friendly as possible when we live by the coast. John Shegerian: Right. Hector Scarano: So I have always been instilled with a sense that green is good, and it’s exciting to be in a position where now we can actually affect change in a positive direction as part of Andretti Autosport and all the great things we’re doing in Formula E. John Shegerian: That is great. When did you join Andretti Autosport? Hector Scarano: I have actually been with the organization for less than three years now, actually. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: So I have just recently started. It is a fantastic experience working with a handful of just immensely talented individuals across the board from our competition division all the way down to our commercial services. John Shegerian: And you are in charge for Andretti Autosport of sales and marketing. Hector Scarano: Yeah. So Andretti Autosport’s business development team is made up of our CMO – Doug Bresnahan – myself, as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, also Alex Muller, who is our Director for Strategic Partnerships. So all of the business development programs that we’re working on actually flow through that department of Andretti Autosport. John Shegerian: Got you. Hector Scarano: And we support a number of different series that we’re a part of including IndyCar, including Global Rallycross and, obviously, including Formula E. John Shegerian: Wow. And for our listeners and our viewers out there, to find Hector and his colleagues and all the great work they’re doing at Andretti Autosport, please go to www.AndrettiAutosport.com. You work – as we were talking off air before, and told you I grew up watching Mario and Michael Andretti. You work with Michael Andretti. Hector Scarano: I do. I work with Michael. Michael – obviously, the Andretti name enjoys a 50-year legacy of excellence in motorsports. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: And Mario was obviously a fantastic driver in his own right. One of the top drivers in the history of our sport. John Shegerian: Right. Hector Scarano: And his son – Michael – is my boss and team owner of Andretti Autosport. John Shegerian: So exciting. Hector Scarano: And we are based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. John Shegerian: Indianapolis, Indiana. Hector Scarano: Yes. John Shegerian: Little bit far from Puerto Rico. Hector Scarano: It’s a little bit far from Puerto Rico, but I’ll tell you what, before moving to Indianapolis I actually lived in Chicago for 15 years. John Shegerian: Really? Hector Scarano: So I’m actually kind of a Chicago boy. I went to law school here in Chicago at John Marshall, so I am very familiar with downtown Chicago. John Shegerian: So you feel very at home at this conference. Hector Scarano: I love this city. I love Chicago. John Shegerian: You’ve gravitated from a young person who has tropics in your veins. Hector Scarano: There you go. John Shegerian: You’ve become a Midwesterner here in the United States, right? Hector Scarano: I certainly have. And enjoy it. John Shegerian: That’s awesome. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the sustainability initiatives you’re working on at Andretti. Hector Scarano: Yeah. So we are a part of an all new, all electric global racing series called “Formula E.” John Shegerian: Wow. OK. Hector Scarano: And for more information about that series, you can go to www.FIAformulaE.com. The series represents – for Andretti – a departure from our traditional participation in IndyCar and Global Rallycross, and it is a series where the cars look very similar to our IndyCars. They are open-wheel formula cars, but they are powered exclusively by electric energy. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: And we race the cars globally. We actually just finished our inaugural season in London about a week ago actually, and now we ramp up. This is our “offseason.” It’s only about a three-month offseason, and we ramp up now for a competition in season two, which starts for us in October in Beijing. John Shegerian: Whoa! Hector Scarano: Yeah. So you can imagine it’s a bit of a departure from traditional motorsports series. Some of the traditionalists didn’t really know what to make of this series because it is an eco-friendly motorsports series. The cars don’t really make the traditional “vroom vroom” sound – they sound like big electric cars – but it’s actually quite intriguing, and it has really been a fascinating journey from our standpoint. John Shegerian: So first of all, I want to go back to a little something you dropped into this conversation that I can’t let go. So you are a recovering lawyer. You don’t practice law – obviously – anymore. Hector Scarano: I do not practice law anymore, no. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: Although, tangentially, I’d always had – I certainly have an affinity for racing, but I had – in my private law practice – I was lucky enough to represent some drivers and companies interested in participating in this space as sponsors. John Shegerian: Oh cool. Hector Scarano: I’m helping them activate their sponsorship around motorsports. But over the last several years, I am now fully ingrained with a terrific motorsports organization, a very diverse motorsports organization, and I think that really separates us from any other racing team. John Shegerian: How fascinating. Hector Scarano: Especially here in the United States. John Shegerian: So how many cars and how many motorsports teams are involved with this green FIA sector? Hector Scarano: So it’s 10 teams globally. John Shegerian: Ten teams. Hector Scarano: Ten teams. And it’s two entries per team. So on track, we have 20 cars competing against each other. John Shegerian: So you have two drivers and two cars at any time under your stable. Hector Scarano: We do. But to add to the mix, it’s actually four cars not two, and the reason for why that is is because as opposed to a traditional pit stop where a car would come into the pits – generally speaking they do a tire change, they add fuel to the car, they may made some aerodynamic adjustments to the car and then they send the car off back to compete – in our series, the car comes into the pits and the driver pops out of his or her car and then jumps into a fully charged car. John Shegerian: Whoa. Hector Scarano: The reason that we were doing that in season one – and we’ll most likely be doing that from season one, season two, season three, season four – the reason that we do that is because the technology just isn’t there to allow for the cars to complete at full song for the duration of one race. John Shegerian: Got it. Hector Scarano: So we’ll get there. We’ll get there. The goal is that by season five we’ll be able to do an entire race distance on one charge. John Shegerian: Fascinating, though. So what is also fascinating by that whole interrelationship that you just laid out is now you have four cars to move around the world at all times for this series. Hector Scarano: We do. And the way that the cars and other race team assets are transported globally is due to the efforts of our, frankly, fantastic series partner, DHL. DHL actually transports all of the equipment globally for the series. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: So it is an interesting way to race, because as all of the cars are packed up after a race, the mechanics and engineers don’t really get to tinker with the car until they make it to the next race. So also in order for – it’s a very unique series. I encourage you to take a look online to learn a little bit more about it. John Shegerian: Yeah, sure. Yeah, of course. Hector Scarano: But another unique aspect of the series is that we practice, we qualify and we race all in the span of one day. The reason behind that is to minimize, to lessen the impact on the host city because all of our races are in city centers. We don’t race – you said you were familiar with Indianapolis. John Shegerian: Sure. Hector Scarano: We don’t race at tracks like Indianapolis Motor Speedway or standalone motorsports venues. John Shegerian: Right. Hector Scarano: We actually bring the racing to the people. So we were racing in city centers. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: So we have raced in Malaysia, we have raced in Beijing, in Uruguay, Argentina, downtown Miami around the American Airlines Arena. John Shegerian: London. Hector Scarano: We raced in downtown London. Battersea Park. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: So it’s really a unique and new and engaging series. And really the aim of the series – the overarching theme of the series and goal – is to promote the faster adoption of electronic vehicle technologies because the technologies that we are racing will hopefully one day trickle down to the cars that you and I will be driving on the road. John Shegerian: And so let’s talk about the success you’re having so far. First of all, growing up as a kid watching the Andretti family and other great iconic families like the Andrettis, of course, the sponsors were Firestone and Pennzoil. Who are the sponsors now of this? Hector Scarano: It’s been interesting because in the series at Formula E Holdings – that is the parent company of Formula E the series – has done a wonderful job of recruiting companies that really take being green seriously. So again, partners like DHL. They’re a series sponsor. Partners like Julius Baers, the financial services company. They take their participation in the series very, very seriously because we are racing in very distinct markets throughout the world. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: And the message has been consistent – this series really represents a positive change in what traditionally has not been such a green-friendly sport, which is racing, motorsports. John Shegerian: Right. Hector Scarano: But this is really – this represents a change in what us – even what Andretti has done historically over our 50-year legacy, we’ve never done anything like this. And I speak on behalf of Michael and the entire Andretti organization that we are thrilled and so happy to be a part of this because we know that we are affecting positive change. And the competition – frankly – has been stellar. The on-track product has been fantastic. John Shegerian: Wow. That’s fascinating. And so who is the general audience that you’re going after? Like you said, is it the next gen? Is it the millennials? Or is it everyone out there? And are you deploying social media to help with this movement? Hector Scarano: What a great question because I actually just prior to coming here was part of a panel talking about how we’re engaging millennials through our very efforts. John Shegerian: Great. Hector Scarano: And obviously, I was talking about what Andretti is doing in the Formula E space. John Shegerian: Yeah. Hector Scarano: So we are engaging millennials through technology. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: We are a little bit different than some of the other initiatives that people have been promoting here at the Green Sports Alliance because we aim to attract millennials – a new generation of motorsports fans – through the use of EV technologies. We are really moving the state of the art. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: And we can engage through social media channels. In fact, the series has implemented kind of an innovative way to engage with millennial fans. It’s called “Fan Boost,” and what that means is leading up to a particular waste you can go onto Twitter or the Formula E app and vote for your favorite driver. Just prior to the start of the weekend’s competition Formula E announces the top three drivers that have earned the most votes during the voting window period. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: Those three drivers will earn an extra boost in power that they can use during competition. So you and I and millennials that are engaged with the on-track product or engaged with the series are actually affecting change. You are actually a part of the competition and that is something that you can’t find in any other form of racing nor can you find – really – in any form of sport. John Shegerian: Right. Hector Scarano: That’s one way that we’re engaging. And also content creation. The series has done a wonderful job of using social media and digital channels to promote the series. And remember this is the first year. This is the inaugural season so I am very excited about what the future holds for the series in terms of just getting the word out to more people. John Shegerian: And for our listeners and our viewers it’s …? Hector Scarano: The website is www.FIAformulaE.com. John Shegerian: Www.FIAformulaE.com. Hector Scarano: Correct. John Shegerian: Wow. And where is its headquarters out of? Hector Scarano: The series is headquartered in London. John Shegerian: London. Hector Scarano: Correct. And there are teams that are based all over the world. And Andretti Autosport, we are lucky to be one of two North American based teams. John Shegerian: GSA. You are here at the GSA. You spoke earlier today. Hector Scarano: I did, yes. John Shegerian: On engagement with millennials. How many years has Andretti Autosport been involved with GSA, and how did you hear about the GSA? Hector Scarano: This is actually only our second year. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: Last year, I was also lucky enough and proud to have been invited to participate in a forum in Santa Clara in California. John Shegerian: OK. Hector Scarano: And this is our second year. And we heard of the Green Sports Alliance through a mutual friend of the organization and also because of our participation at the time with our Electronic Drive Transportation Association – the EDTA – and we were kind of just brought into the mix, and it’s just been a wonderful experience. In fact, I hope this is still correct, but Andretti Autosport was the first racing organization to be a part of the Green Sports Alliance. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: So we can hang our hat on that. John Shegerian: That’s a big thing to hang your hat on and something to be really proud of. Hector Scarano: Yeah. We’re very proud of that. We were. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: Yeah. John Shegerian: That’s great. So it’s been a great forum for you to continue to message what you’re trying to accomplish. Hector Scarano: And the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and companies that – and it’s interesting. Even after I had the pleasure of speaking earlier today, a lot of people have come up to me and once they hear about what it is that we’re doing in Formula E, they’re over the moon. They want to know how they can get involved. And I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’ve never even heard of the series, so maybe we have to do a better job in terms of promoting it. But again, this is the inaugural season. It’s just ramping up. I also played a bit of a short clip during the presentation giving the folks an overview of what Formula E is, and I can’t tell you how excited people were. John Shegerian: Wow. Hector Scarano: I mean, it’s really amazing. So again, I encourage you to get the word out. John Shegerian: We’ve got to get that clip on our website. Hector Scarano: For sure. John Shegerian: Once your show airs. Hector Scarano: For sure. John Shegerian: That is wonderful. Hector, you are always welcome back here. Hector Scarano: Thank you so much. John Shegerian: Obviously, sustainability is a race without a finish line but – as you say – you already have a great five-year plan so we want to continue to hear and cover your journey during these five years. It’s going to be a great one. I can just tell. You’ve done a lot of planning with your colleagues and this is going to be really great. And again for our listeners and our viewers out there, we have been so honored and excited to have with us today Hector Scarano. He is the VP of Sales and Marketing for Andretti Autosport. To learn more about Andretti Autosport, please go to www.AndrettiAutosport.com. To learn more about the Green Sports Alliance, please go to www.GreenSportsAlliance.org. Hector Scarano, you are making the world a better place. You are making change every day; you are creating a whole new generation of people who are going to save energy and you are truly living proof that Green is Good. Thank you so much for joining us. Hector Scarano: Thank you very much. John Shegerian: Thank you.