Jenson Button joins Extreme E as driver and owner

Button Extreme E
Extreme E
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Jenson Button has added his name to the Extreme E series as both a driver and owner, giving the organization their third Formula 1 champion. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg also will field Extreme E teams.

“I’m thrilled to welcome another major name in the world of motorsport in Jenson Button,” said Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E in a release. “He is one of the most popular drivers in the business and Extreme E will give him the opportunity to live out one of his long-held passions, to compete at the highest level in off-road racing.

“Jenson, alongside his peers, will give further weight to our mission to raise awareness of the global climate crisis, while doing what we love – racing. It’s going to be fantastic to see the biggest names in motorsport on the starting line in Saudi Arabia in April – it is set to be an incredible form of entertainment, but with a strong and purposeful message around our planet.”

Since retiring from Formula 1 full time in 2016, Button has raced in several other disciplines including off road.

He first ran on the dirt in the 2019 Baja 1000. Jenson’s father, John Button was a top rallycross driver in the 1970s and 1980s, claiming the runner-up spot in both the British Rallycross Championship and Lydden Hill Rallycross Championship in 1976.

Button’s JBXE, becomes the 10th team in the new series that will make its debut with the Desert X Prix in Saudi Arabia on April 3.

A HUMDINGER ANNOUNCEMENT: GMC’s Hummer will sponsor and livery CGR’s Extreme E ride

With five races scheduled for 2021 in areas of the globe most affected by climate change, the Extreme E series already has an international flair.

The 10 teams represent five countries with Chip Ganassi Racing plus Andretti United for the United States, ABT CUPRA XE plus Nico Rosberg’s Rosberg Xtreme Racing for Germany, Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team plus ACCIONA-Sainz XE Team for Spain, Team TECHEETAH for Indonesia and fellow British teams Veloce Racing plus Lewis Hamilton’s X44 for the United Kingdom.

“JBXE has been a long time coming and I’m both delighted and proud to announce its formation and entry into the inaugural Extreme E Championship,” Button said. “I caught the off-road bug a few years back which led to me entering my own team in a few races including the Mint 400 and even the Baja 1000 and I absolutely loved it!

“It was around the same time I first heard about the plans for Extreme E which I’ve followed with great interest and what Alejandro Agag, Ali Russell and the team have managed to create is nothing short of incredible, and thanks to them and our partners Apater Capital and Pipt we get to be a part of it.

“In Extreme E they’ve created a product that will offer first-class racing and entertainment to the fans, but also serves to highlight the impact of climate change. Whilst we will of course compete to win on track, as a collective we will also work to maximize awareness whilst racing in places that have been damaged or affected by climate change over the years. Alongside the awareness piece, Extreme E themselves are committing legacy initiatives at each destination which help protect already damaged ecosystems impacted by climate change.”

Button will announce his co-driver at a later date. The Extreme E series pairs one male and one female driver in each team.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”