Formula E

Formula E is an interesting beast.

So what does it sound like when vehicles have no exhaust:

There’s even a live DJ during each race — or “EJ,” as he’s called — who pumps music into speakers around the venue to help make up for the lack of engine noise.


While the racing has been great, the most common complaint about Formula E was lodged well before the series even debuted: its sound, or the perceived lack of it. Traditional race fans love (or love to hate) the sound of combustion engines, and a series that lacks the rumbles and roars usually found in other motorsports is fighting an uphill battle.

“There’s always going to be standard combustion [engine] series out there, and we’re not trying to get rid of them,” Bird says. “There’s no reason why a fan can’t appreciate and love the so-called ‘normal’ concept of racing but at the same time appreciate and love what we’re doing here with our machines.”

But let’s be clear: these cars aren’t silent. The electric motors produce a sound that is somewhere between that of a giant RC car and something out of The Jetsons. They might be whisper-quiet from few hundred yards away, but they register about 80 decibels when they zip by. That’s plenty of noise to get your heart pounding.

I get sad thinking about combustion engines going away, but like most things, we adapt quickly to the new and forget about the old: cigarettes in bars, new operating systems, pagers.