Lighting up New York City in DS Virgin Racing colours

New York City is a special place for Virgin. We used it as a base to sign artists in our Virgin Records days, operated one of our biggest Virgin Megastores out of Times Square, drove a tank through its streets to launch Virgin Cola, and still love flying to the city today with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Empire State Building

So it was great to be back in the Big Apple to celebrate New York’s first ever Formula E race. In true Virgin style, we kicked off the celebrations with flair: lighting up the Empire State Building in DS Virgin Racing colours.

Virgin Racing New York City Empire State Building

It was brilliant to hear President of the Empire State Realty Trust, John Kessler, explain that they have been working with the Rocky Mountain Institute and others to improve the sustainability of the world’s most famous building – their retrofit project has reduced their energy use and saved them millions of dollars.

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Empire State Building

Apparently John had heard of my penchant for cutting off ties, so decided to leave his at home that day. He didn’t want to risk losing one to my scissors!

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Empire State Building

As we left the Empire State Building, I was greeted by a group of girls from Wales, who were in New York on a school trip. They had flown out with Virgin Atlantic – it’s always a pleasure to meet and chat with our wonderful customers.

Richard Branson Welsh School Girls students

From there, we left to join the DS Virgin Racing Innovation Summit, where we discussed climate change, and heard from companies about the innovations they are working on to reduce their impact on the planet.

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Innovation Summit

The next day was race day, and arriving at the track in Brooklyn there was a real excitement in the air. The DS Virgin Racing garage was buzzing with activity, preparing the drivers for the race.
 

Virgin Racing New York City Sam Bird

As the reserve driver, I was very relieved to see both our drivers looking fit and well. It’s best that they didn’t need me, as the last time I took part in a race I was so far behind that I hoped people would think I was coming first.

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Empire State Building

After wishing everyone the best of luck for the race, I took to the track for grid walk, where I had the pleasure of bumping into Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas with their lovely family.

Richard Branson Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas

The race itself was a dramatic affair with both our drivers starting at the front of the pack. Sadly, Alex Lynn had to retire from the race due to a mechanical issue. Sam Bird, however, quickly worked his way up the field from fourth to first, and maintained his lead to take the chequered flag – and a champagne soaking from yours truly.

 

Virgin Racing New York City

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Sam Bird

I’m very proud to say that Sam went on to win first place in Sunday’s race too. Congratulations to DS Virgin Racing, a double victory is an incredible feat! I look forward to seeing more spectacular racing at the final weekend of this season’s championship in Montreal.

Richard Branson Virgin Racing New York City Sam Bird Podium

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