A 17 year old EV racer Ellis Spiezia is revolutionising the motorsport industry and driving the #ClimateComeback with his unwavering passion. From a young age, Ellis's love for cars led him to electric karting and eventually to electric motorsport, where he realized the immense potential for innovation and sustainability. As an EcoAthletes Champion, Ellis actively promotes EV racing and electric mobility through his presence on the track, social media content, and participation in conferences. He aims to educate and inspire others about sustainability while pushing the limits of human-machine interaction.
In a recent Q&A session with Ellis we got to know more about the journey of this young athlete and what motivated him at such a young age to promote sustainability through motorsport. Let us delve more into the highlights of our engaging Q&A session with Mr Ellis Spiezia.
LEVS: What inspired you at such young age to choose EV car racing and become an advocate for electric mobility as a driver of the #ClimateComeback?
Ellis: Cars have been my passion for as long as I can remember. My Grandfather was a massive car fanatic, and taught me how to drive a 5 speed on my first sim setup when I was 9 years old. From there I started indoor karting, and those karts were electric. I won a regional tournament and went on to a national championship, and that was the moment we realized this was meant to be more than a hobby.
I had tried some combustion karting & went to Lucas Oil Race School for combustion open wheel, but we realized pretty quickly that if you’re not from a motorsport family or have a lot of funding, making it up the ladder in racing is almost impossible. So, we knew we needed a different path, a way to hack the system. That’s how we discovered electric motorsport, first with the Spanish eKart Championship and then the DEKM in Germany. The opportunity to focus on a brand new vertical within the sport gave me a huge opportunity to make a name for myself and rack up a lot of ‘firsts.’
2020 was my first season, and it was super challenging. It wasn’t until the middle of 2021 that I took the podium in the Rotax Project E20 Euro trophy, and got the nickname ‘Electric Renegade’ because I was solely focused on electric and had really started getting involved with different sustainability initiatives, namely EcoAthletes. I was the first racing driver to join their community.
LEVS: Why did you choose car racing to promote sustainability?
Ellis: know that when you think about sustainability, motorsport is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind. Honestly, when I started racing, and even when I started focusing on electric motorsport, it wasn’t primarily about sustainability. I chose electric for the performance, the technological innovation, the generally lower costs, and the parity of materials between drivers. But as I started getting more and more involved, it was obvious that sustainability was a huge benefit of electric motorsport, and the innovation taking place on track and in the pit box was leading to major changes in road cars, infrastructure and other applications.
Racing is exciting and pushes the limits of what’s possible between human and machine, so I think it’s the perfect place to be curious about how to solve the world’s biggest problems. I also think it’s a bit controversial, which draws even more attention toward what’s happening in the space. I can’t imagine doing anything else, so I’m glad I can use my passion to educate and inspire other people about sustainability.
LEVS: As an EcoAthletes Champion, what are some specific ways in which you plan to promote EV racing and electric mobility to make a positive impact on the environment? How do you aim to engage and influence other racers and fans in this regard?
Ellis: The best thing about being an electric racing driver is that just by doing my sport, I’m supporting sustainability and climate action. Not a lot of other athletes can say that. So, being out on track and getting people excited about the sport is number one. I also create a lot of content across my social channels to support partners and initiatives doing awesome work. I always say I’m learning along with my community of friends and fans, so education is a big part of what we do. We’ve got a metaverse space where we hold meetups and have a whole sustainability space. I believe that by having a positive, optimistic approach and using gamification you can inspire more people to take action than by buying into the fear narrative that is too common in the media right now.
I’ve been invited to a number of conferences and events to speak about electric motorsport and sustainability, and in 2022, I was nominated for the BBC Green Sports Young Athlete of the Year Award which was a big honor. All of these experiences give me an opportunity to be visible to others and be vocal about ways they can have impact.
LEVS: What are the main challenges of transitioning to EV racing from gasoline-powered car racing? How does it benefit the environment?
Ellis: For the industry as a whole, I think the main challenges of transitioning to EV racing or starting up new series is cost. There are big up front costs to creating new technologies for the vehicles and preparing what’s needed to get a series off the ground, especially when you’re competing with legacy motorsport that has existed for decades. For drivers, it’s definitely a different skill set, and I’ve been able to experience both combustion and electric powertrains on track. The power and weight of the electric cars is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
As far as benefits, obviously emission free cars on track is one, although it’s tiny fraction of the overall footprint. The technological innovation from new charging solutions to better material use and recycling/extending the lifecycle of materials has huge environmental impact. But the greatest challenge is in the infrastructure. Switching to low/no emission vehicles and renewable energy sources for commercial transport in the racing industry will be the true game changer.
LEVS: How do you think events like the London EV Show can help promote EVs in the sports Industry?
Ellis: Events like the London EV Show bring a lot of hype and excitement to the EV space. Bringing the public out to see the cars, experience the technology and learn about EVs will help make the transition easier and faster. Showing off new options in vans and transporters can inspire the sports industry to use EV options at arenas and stadiums, and consider EV cars (especially awesome sports cars) for special events.