ExCeL events boss on staging Formula E and moving into live attractions

Damian Norman is head of live events at the ExCeL

Damian Norman, head of live events at the ExCeL - Credit: ExCeL London

"You're putting a racing track through the halls and up and down the ramps of the venue - to say that it's not disruptive is an understatement."

Damian Norman, head of live events at the ExCeL in the Royal Docks, sums up the challenge of the venue hosting global motorsport series Formula E.

This is the second year that the venue is hosting the London E-Prix, with races on Saturday and Sunday (July 30 and 31).

The track makes its way both inside and outside the venue, in what Formula E calls a world-first layout.

Damian told the Recorder: "We start building two weeks before the race weekend and that's building the 2.14km track.

"The bulk of the build is putting the protective concrete barriers that line the entire track and the protective screen to ensure the safety of the drivers and fans."

There are up to 20,000 people expected to attend the races each day and installing the grandstands and other seating areas is another challenge, according to Damian.

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But he said there are "a lot of known knowns" following last year's running.

"It's very different (to other events) but we have put a lot of time and planning in to making sure the finer details are meticulous."

Formula E cars race at the ExCeL in 2021

Formula E cars race at the ExCeL in 2021 - Credit: Sam Bloxham/Formula E

Among the drivers set to take part is Sam Bird, a multiple race winner in Formula E.

Last year, he told this paper he hoped the ExCeL would become a "crown jewel" in the electric racing series.

Damian felt this year's event is "going to be something to remember".

He added: "To be a home for electric motor racing is tremendous.

"To be a world-first indoor, outdoor circuit - world firsts don't happen very often because they are quite hard and complicated to do.

"Every year we're going to work with Formula E to build it bigger and better and add different dimensions to the offering and our long-term partnership."

The ExCeL is also set to host Jurassic World: The Exhibition from August and marks a move into the live attraction genre, Damian explained.

He said up to 300,000 visitors are expected during its tenure.

It comes as the ExCeL bids to redevelop the waterfront part of its estate as part of phase three of the venue.

A planning application was approved by Newham councillors last year.

Damian said: "A number of different live attractions are planned for the coming years.

"So you'll start seeing some different offerings from us and as we redevelop the waterfront, you'll start seeing the emergence of new hospitality to complement these attractions."