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Churn and Burn

Electric-car racing invades Brooklyn—and its ice cream

PIERRE ALEXANDRE and Kristina Frantz couldn't have known that coffee with a few customers would turn into a fresh flavor for their gelato shop, Dolce Brooklyn, and a role hosting VIP events for the first international motor sports circuit event within New York City.

It began with a handful of patrons chatting about something called Formula E, a new vein of electric car racing. It piqued Alexandre's curiosity, so he exchanged pleasantries and contact information with the guests, who turned out to be race organizers. In doing so, Alexandre bridged the gap between artisanal ice cream and ecosports.

That relationship shifts into high gear on July 15 and 16, when Formula E, now in its third season, puts on the New York City ePrix in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The E cars top out at around 150 mph—compared to 230 for Formula 1—but their engines are much quieter. Combined with the shorter track (roughly 1.2 miles) and quicker competition (races last from 45 minutes to an hour), Formula E is almost tailor-made to bring racing to the Big Apple.

Where does gelato fit in? The car batteries are charged by generators that run on glycerol, the by-product of which is an edible glycerine. Dolce Brooklyn created an espresso-stracciatella concoction dubbed Soul Fuel that features a sprinkle of the by-product in every batch.

Much like mixing glycerin and gelato, Formula E is challenging the norms of racing and hoping to leave a good taste in New Yorkers' mouths.